Energy use in buildings must fall by 60%

The global building sector must cut its energy use by 60% over the next 40 years if we are to meet climate change targets, according to a new report.

That goal is attainable, but immediate action is required to transform the sector.

These are the central findings of a $15m research project undertaken by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

The project took a bottom-up, market-driven approach to understanding the barriers to lower energy use, based on the most detailed view ever of the current state of energy demand in buildings.

Energy use by building type was analyzed for millions of existing and new buildings and projected out to 2050, accounting for differences such as climate and building design.

Björn Stigson, president of the WBCSD, said: “Buildings use more energy than any other sector and as such are a major contributor to climate change.

“Unless there is immediate action, thousands of new buildings will be built without any concern for energy efficiency, and millions of existing, inefficient buildings using more energy than necessary will still be standing in 2050.

“Acting now means reducing their energy consumption and making real progress in controlling climate change.”

The project’s resulting report makes six principle recommendations:

* Strengthen building codes and energy labeling for increased transparency.

* Use subsidies and price signals to incentivize energy-efficient investments.

* Encourage integrated design approaches and innovations.

* Develop and use advanced technology to enable energy-saving behavior.

* Develop workforce capacity for energy saving.

* Mobilize for an energy-aware culture.

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