Constructing and operating the buildings that serve as our homes, workplaces, schools, hospitals, and public venues consumes around one third of all energy resources and produces one third of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Tackling climate change therefore requires all buildings to be as resource efficient and energy efficient as possible. GBPN supports policies such as building energy codes, design and material standards, and performance ratings, which are among the most cost-efficient climate actions available. They can also create jobs, improve health, and stimulate economic development. But we need to act fast. The buildings sector is not on a zero-emissions trajectory. In 2019, annual building-related emissions hit an all-time high of more than 13GtCO2. Yet achieving zero emissions is possible with the right mix of policies, design, and technological innovation.
GBPN is working to develop, mandate, and implement minimum energy performance requirements for buildings in India and Southeast Asia. These are the two fastest-growing construction markets in Asia. They are also among the top five GHG emitters in the building sector, and are experiencing the largest growth in building energy demand globally. Avoiding emissions growth and decarbonizing requires establishing minimum energy performance requirements for buildings through building codes. The abatement potential of ~7.5GtCO2 by 2050 and the economic and societal benefits of reducing building energy demand are significant. But many countries in this region are only starting to develop building energy codes, and where they have been developed, compliance is mostly voluntary. The stakes are high, but GBPN has the local experts in place to support government and industry to reform this critical area of policy.
Most energy-related GHG emissions from the buildings sector occur during the operating phase of the building life-cycle, which can range from 10 to 50 years on average. Building energy codes can help ensure that new buildings and buildings undergoing major renovations are designed and constructed to be energy efficient. However, policy measures are also required to ensure that buildings are operated, maintained, and retrofitted to achieve (or exceed) the design performance. Combining mandatory building energy codes with mandatory rating and disclosure of energy and emissions performance has been shown to be the most effective combination of policies to reduce building energy demand and associated emissions over time. Performance ratings also provide information that helps identify better-performing buildings for property investors and financiers, and thereby supporting market transformation. The net impact of combining codes with rating and disclosure is estimated to boost the abatement potential by as much as 150% in some markets. In GBPN’s focus markets we estimate nearly 2.5GtCO2 of additional abatement potential by 2050. There is as yet no mandatory rating and disclosure in place, although development work is underway in India and Indonesia.
Emerging economies such as India and Indonesia are rapidly expanding building electrification, yet the source of most building emissions is embodied emissions from the production of building materials and products, and direct emissions. Direct GHG emissions in the buildings sector are associated with the residential use of fossil fuels and biomass to generate electricity, hot water, and space heating. Eliminating emissions from buildings therefore requires adopting zero-emissions performance requirements, achieved by minimizing energy demand through energy codes and performance ratings, reforming building codes and planning controls to phase out fossil-fuel use, and requiring connection to a renewable electricity supply.