The use of energy in buildings represents a large share of the total end use of energy. In the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) region, buildings are responsible for approximately one third of total energy consumption and account for almost 40 percent of CO2 emissions from combustion. Existing building energy standards in the UNECE region vary from voluntary guidelines to mandatory requirements, which may apply to one or many building types. Their development is typically a complex decision-making process that can involve several stakeholders. Building energy standards are difficult to classify and the standards that are stringent for one country may be ineffective in another country, depending on climate conditions, occupant behavior, existing building stock, and construction practices.
In response to these challenges and for a better understanding of the status of deployment and implementation of energy efficiency standards in buildings in the UNECE region, the Committee on Housing and Land Management (CHLM) and the Committee on Sustainable Energy made a decision to develop a study on “Mapping of existing energy efficiency standards and technologies in buildings in the UNECE region”. The objectives of this study are to identify which energy efficiency standards in buildings the UNECE member States are using and also to evaluate the most effective policies and highlight the best practices to help countries learn from each other and achieve greater savings. This report presents the results of this study and takes a look at the building energy standards in the UNECE region to determine which countries are embracing energy efficiency through highly effective building energy codes.
Furthermore, this report provides a snapshot of the legal status and coverage of building energy standards in 56 member States, and lays out the status of building energy standards stringency, technical requirements, enforcement and compliance, use of energy efficient building materials and products in selected countries of the UNECE region. Finally, it highlights some national best practices for each of the above elements. With the exception of a few countries, all countries have now embedded regulations for newly constructed, renovated residential and non-residential buildings.
The study was carried out in four different but inter-related steps which included:
- Data collection on the status of energy efficiency standards and technology in buildings in the UNECE region using a survey, complemented by desktop research and stakeholder consultations;
- Analysis of the survey results;
- Gap analysis of the building energy codes effectiveness; and
- Initial assessment of energy efficiency technologies in buildings in relation to the existing standards.
- UNECE member States should continue the process of harmonization of building energy codes by ensuring comprehensive coverage of all types of buildings9 in their regulations.
- UNECE member States should lay down the necessary measures to include a national energy efficiency target, based either on primary or final energy consumption, or on primary or final energy savings, or on energy intensity.
- UNECE member States should continue the process of harmonization through further strengthening the requirements for insulation, ventilation and technical installations.
- UNECE member States should consider to introduce or strengthen quality assurance measures, especially during the early stage of the certification process.
- UNECE member States should consider the challenges of the energy performance gap in existing buildings and data collection on actual energy use to be a priority area for research in the respective country.
- UNECE member States should establish or strengthen proper (electronic) monitoring systems of compliance, enforcement and quality control processes through qualified experts to ensure compliance with international building energy codes and standards.
- UNECE member States should lay down the necessary measures to establish a regular inspection of boilers and air-conditioning systems in building energy regulations.
- UNECE member States should lay down the necessary measures to continuously monitor, analyze and adjust their energy usage in building energy codes.
- UNECE member States, particularly countries with economies in transition, should consider creating incentives for improving energy efficiency through appropriate policies, tax incentives and low-interest loans for energy efficiency projects.
- UNECE member States should lay down the necessary measures in building energy codes to facilitate the process of harmonization of energy efficient materials and products testing and certification using best practices employed by other countries of the UNECE region. When developing and harmonizing building energy codes in lower-middle income economies of the UNECE region, regard should be given to the types of construction that these countries can afford. This will ensure that building energy codes effectively promote manufacture of local traditional materials, research and development for improving local traditional techniques, materials testing, and quality control, and do not create dependency on imported building materials that may stifle local innovation.
- UNECE member States should lay down the necessary measures in building regulations to ensure that the materials and products used in construction are subject to rigorous quality control processes to meet the requirements for energy efficiency while maintaining robust combustion performance, fire and seismic resistance, ensuring they do not cause threat to the safety of people and property.
- UNECE member States should consider funding collaborative international research to assist in the establishment of new harmonized building materials test mechanisms and to ensure that independent organizations beyond the manufacturing community can play a key role in developing marketneutral procedures.
- Member States of UNECE should a) consider the opportunity to improve transparency in information access and exchange by making full-featured versions of their building energy codes accessible and available free of charge with the applicable calculation methods on the relevant websites; b) especially those countries who have already developed their building energy codes in detail and are at the stage of their practical implementation with real positive effects, should provide methodological or other assistance to countries that need it; and c) consider developing common approaches to building energy codes reflecting specifics relevant to energy exporting countries and specifics relevant to the countries importing energy and fuel for primary energy generation.
- UNECE member States should lay down the necessary policies based on well-founded identification of the energy efficiency technology options that can best assist national energy aims, and carry out an in-depth review of economic and non-economic barriers to progress as a baseline for future policies in their respective countries.
- UNECE member States, particularly countries with economies in transition, should lay down the necessary policies to increase awareness and understanding within the national and local governments, property developers, local funders, and the international financial community about the feasibility of significant investments in energy efficiency technologies.
- UNECE member States, particularly countries with economies in transition, should lay down the necessary policies to educate government officials in ministry offices and targeted municipal offices on the business environment necessary to attract investments in energy efficiency in buildings and how to translate private sector requirements into effective policy measures and/or government initiatives.
- UNECE member States should lay down the necessary policies to facilitate the deployment of energy efficiency technologies in the market place by improving coherence of the energy efficiency technologies programs and other government policies to meet public policy goals.