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Supporting countries in achieving low-carbon economy through improving energy efficiency in buildings in the UNECE region

Improving energy efficiency overall is impossible without concerted measures in the buildings sector. Buildings are responsible for approximately one third of total energy consumption and account for almost 40 per cent of CO2 emissions from combustion in the UNECE region.

Achieving related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in areas including sustainable energy, climate change mitigation, and sustainable urban development – together with the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement, the Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing and the New Urban Agenda – will therefore require strengthened and integrated action for significantly improving energy efficiency in buildings.

This is the impetus behind the UNECE Joint Task Force on Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings, which concluded its first meeting today on World Cities Day 2017 (31 October). The Joint Task Force was established by the Committee on Housing and Land Management and the Committee on Sustainable Energy in 2015 to support UNECE countries in their transition to more sustainable energy systems. The objective of the Joint Task Force is to enhance the harmonization of the markets for products and technological appliances that increase energy efficiency in buildings of the UNECE member States.

To this end, the Joint Task Force will work with countries to promote Framework Guidelines on Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings, which have been endorsed by the Committee on Sustainable Energy in September 2017 and is to be endorsed by the Committee on Housing and Land Management in November, helping to improve sustainability in the conception, design, construction and maintenance of buildings. The guidelines reflect lessons learned and best practices from around the world and are intended to inform the development of standards to support planners, builders, and the entire building delivery and management chain in making buildings more energy efficient.

The first meeting of the Joint Task Force explored practical steps required to achieve the Framework Guidelines’ ambitious goals for high performance buildings. Among the activities planned by the Joint Task Force over the next year are establishing an online database of experts on energy efficiency in buildings, mapping of existing energy efficiency standards and technologies, analyzing gaps, and the development of recommendations for countries in the UNECE region. The delegates also considered the possibility of providing practical examples through demonstration projects in pilot cities and establishing international centres of excellence and research programmes for capacity building, training of professionals, and development of world-class technologies. The affordability of high performance new and renovated buildings are also among the concerns that need to be addressed in scaling-up measures to improve energy efficiency of buildings.

The work of the Joint Task Force is supported by the project on Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings in the UNECE Region, funded by the Governments of Denmark and the Russian Federation.