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Exploring approaches for greening homes

UNECE kicks off series of Green Economy Seminars

Published: 16 April 2012

As a region, the member States of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) are more energy-efficient than the world as a whole. However, this is not true for residential energy consumption per person, which is much higher in the UNECE than the rest of the world. Residences in the UNECE use 114% more energy per person than the world average (including the UNECE region) and 187% more per person than the rest of the world (not including the UNECE region). In other words, residences in the region use about three times the energy per person as residences in the rest of the world.

Energy efficiency in the residential sector in the UNECE region was one issue discussed at the seminar on “Greening Homes in the UNECE region: case studies, actions, and financing” on 4 April 2012. With this seminar, UNECE launched a series of events to identify actions for promoting a Green Economy in the region. Through its Green Economy seminars, UNECE will provide a platform for discussion on how to integrate environmental and social considerations within the mainstream of economic decision-making in the run-up to Rio+20, as well as in the period beyond.

During the first Green Economy seminar, experts from the UNECE, Building Research Establishment (BRE) Scotland and the Green Building Council Italia exchanged views on cost-efficient and “green” solutions that can make the housing sector more sustainable. These include improvements to energy efficiency, environmental performance and resilience to climate change.

When opening the seminar, Virginia Cram-Martos, Director of the UNECE Trade and Sustainable Land Management Division, stressed that buildings have the greatest potential for greenhouse gas emission reductions. In addition, she pointed out that buildings are long-term investments so the bad and good decisions that go into their design may have to be lived with for anywhere from 30 to over 100 years. This makes buildings and housing priority sectors for green investments. “A failure to start acting now may result in environmentally damaging developments that would be difficult and costly to reverse”, she said.

To help governments improve housing energy efficiency, the Action Plan for Energy-efficient Housing in the UNECE region has been prepared, and was presented during the seminar. It outlines key policy areas and actions to develop the administrative, legal and financial capacity for the large-scale implementation of energy efficiency measures. Moreover, these actions should encourage the public and private sector to invest in housing energy efficiency. UNECE is guiding member States in the application of this Action Plan through training workshops and the translation of this Plan into National Action Plans such as the recently finalized National Action Plan of Montenegro for Energy-Efficiency Measures in the Residential Sector.

The next UNECE Green Economy seminar on housing and land management in June will focus on the recovery of real estate marketsand a third seminar  in September will discuss the role of cities in a Green Economy.

For more information on the seminar, please contact

Ms. Gulnara Roll
Head, Housing and Land Management Unit
Trade and Sustainable Land Management Division
UN Economic Commission for Europe
Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland
Email :
Tel. +41 (0)22 9172257

Information on the seminar “Greening Homes in the UNECE region: case studies, actions, and financing” is available at

The Action Plan for Energy-efficient housing in the UNECE region is available online at:

The publication Green Homes. Towards energy-efficient housing in the UNECE region can be accessed at:


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Palais des Nations, 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 44 44

Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 05 05