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UNECE undertakes mapping of energy efficiency standards in the region’s buildings

In the UNECE region, buildings are responsible for approximately one third of total energy consumption and account for almost 40 percent of CO2 emissions from combustion. Standards are an effective instrument for addressing energy efficiency in buildings and supporting the achievements of the targets set by several international commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals related to energy and housing, the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, the New Urban Agenda and the Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing.

To address the issue of improving energy efficiency in buildings, the UNECE Committee on Housing and Land Management and Committee on Sustainable Energy established the Joint Task Force on Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings in 2015. The Workshop on Validation of Results of Mapping of Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings in the UNECE Region was organized on 14-15 May 2018 in Yerevan, Armenia to discuss a draft of this study. It was held as part of the joint UNECE-UNDP events Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings and Appliances: Harmonization and Implementation in UNECE Region.

New insights on energy efficiency standards in buildings

According to the study, the existing building energy standards in the UNECE region vary from voluntary guidelines to mandatory requirements, which may apply to one or different building types. Their development is typically a complex decision-making process that involves many stakeholders. One of the outcomes of the study is the identification of those countries that are embracing energy efficiency through highly effective building energy codes. Their experience can be useful to other countries that wish to improve energy efficiency in the building sector. The draft study provided a snapshot of the legal status and coverage of building energy and outlined building energy standards stringency, technical requirements, enforcement and compliance, use of energy-efficient building materials and products in countries of the UNECE region.

A survey was developed to gather information about activities undertaken by UNECE countries to develop and implement energy efficiency standards in buildings. The results of the survey indicated that 96 percent of public buildings, apartment blocks and single-family houses and 91 percent of commercial buildings are covered by building energy codes in the UNECE region. 52 percent of building energy codes are mandatory, 10 percent are voluntary codes and 38 percent are mixed. 65 percent of respondents confirmed the existence of specific incentives for compliance in country’s building energy code, while requirements for energy performance monitoring were confirmed by 50 percent of respondents. The prescriptive requirements in building energy codes include requirements for thermal insulation (94 percent of responses), for boiler/air conditioning system (88 percent), and for ventilation or air quality (82 percent).

Supporting enhanced energy efficiency in buildings: next steps

The Workshop provided the opportunity to discuss and provide feedback on the draft study. Representatives of Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan reflected on the status of development and implementation of energy efficiency standards in buildings in their countries and exchanged experiences and lessons learned in order to further improve energy efficiency in buildings and compliance with international and national standards in the UNECE region. Representatives of UNDP, International Energy Charter, Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and International Passive House Association (iPHA) highlighted synergies with their work in assisting countries in the development and implementation of energy efficiency standards in buildings.

The members of the Joint Task Force outlined the next steps in the implementation of its activities, which are supported by funding from Denmark, Russian Federation, and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSEC), and proposed future initiatives. Participants agreed that further support is needed to scale up action to improve energy efficiency in buildings in the region.

After finalization of the current study on standards, UNECE will undertake the following activities:

  • a study on mapping of energy efficient technologies in the region;
  • a study on best practices to implement energy efficiency standards and technologies;
  • organization of a training seminar in September 2018 for policy makers and building sector professionals on the application of high-performance energy efficiency standards in buildings.

The results of mapping of technologies will be reviewed by the Joint Task Force in Geneva on 3 October 2018 (back-to-back with the 79th session of the Committee on Housing and Land Management). The implementation of activities of the Joint Task Force in 2018 will be discussed at the stakeholder workshop held in the framework of the Ninth International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development in Kiev on 12-15 November 2018.