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Buildings

A source of enormous untapped efficiency potential

The buildings and buildings construction sectors combined are responsible for almost one-third of total global final energy consumption and nearly 15% of direct CO2 emissions. Energy demand from buildings and buildings construction continues to rise, driven by improved access to energy in developing countries, growing demand for air conditioning in tropical countries, greater ownership and use of energy-consuming appliances, and rapid growth in global buildings floor area.

Key findings

Global CO2 emissions from building operations in the Net Zero Scenario, 2010-2030

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Energy-related CO2 emissions from buildings have risen in recent years

Direct and indirect emissions from building operations plummeted to about 9 Gt in 2020, after having risen an average 1% per year since 2010. Although minimum performance standards are tightening, heat pump and renewable equipment deployment is accelerating and the power sector is continuing to decarbonise, the 2020 drop in buildings sector CO2 emissions resulted primarily from lower activity in the services sector.

Despite the expected rebound in emissions in 2021 being moderated by continued power sector decarbonisation, buildings remain off track to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. To meet this target, all new buildings and 20% of the existing building stock would need to be zero-carbon-ready as soon as 2030.
Our work

The EBC TCP, created in 1977, carries out research and development efforts towards near-zero energy and carbon emissions in the built environment. Activities under the EBC TCP focus on the integration of energy-efficient and sustainable technologies into healthy buildings and communities.

The DHC TCP conducts research and development as well as policy analysis and international co-operation to increase the market penetration of district heating and cooling systems with low environmental impact.

The aims of the 4E TCP are to promote energy efficiency as the key to ensuring safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy systems. As an international platform for collaboration between governments, the 4E TCP provides policy guidance to its members and other governments concerning energy using equipment and systems. The 4E TCP prioritises technologies and applications with significant energy consumption and energy saving potential within the residential, commercial and industrial sectors (not including transport). To meet its aims, the 4E TCP harnesses the expertise of governments, industry, experts and other TCPs for joint research related to the development and deployment of energy efficient equipment.

The mission of the Energy Storage TCP is to facilitate research, development, implementation and integration of energy storage technologies to optimise the energy efficiency of all kinds of energy systems and enable the increasing use of renewable energy. Storage technologies are a central component in energy-efficient and sustainable energy systems. Energy storage is a cross-cutting issue that relies on expert knowledge of many disciplines. The Energy Storage TCP fosters widespread experience, synergies and cross-disciplinary co-ordination of working plans and research goals.

The HPT TCP functions as an international framework of co-operation and knowledge exchange for the different stakeholders in the field of heat pumping technologies used for heating, cooling, air-conditioning and refrigeration in buildings, industries, thermal grids and other applications. The mission of the HPT TCP is to accelerate the transformation to an efficient, renewable, clean and secure energy sector in its member countries and beyond through collaboration research, demonstration and data collection and through enabling innovations and deployment in the area of heat pumping technologies.

Through multi-disciplinary international collaborative research and knowledge exchange, as well as market and policy recommendations, the SHC TCP works to increase the deployment rate of solar heating and cooling systems by breaking down the technical and non-technical barriers to increase deployment.