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GREEN HOMES: a UNECE study on energy efficiency now available online

Published: 28 September 2009


GREEN HOMES. Towards Energy-Efficient Housing: Prospects for UNECE Member States is now available online and will be soon in printed form. The product of the Committee on Housing and Land Management’s activities on this important topic, the study also provides background information on the upcoming international forum on energy efficiency in housing, to be held in Vienna from 23 to 25 November 2009 (see www.energy-housing.net/).

Green Homes shows that in the UNECE region buildings are responsible for more than a third of total energy consumption. To make housing more environmentally friendly, member States need to invest in energy saving. Substantial energy savings can be achieved by adopting the latest technology as well as through institutional and behavioural changes. The study also reviews existing energy efficiency policies in housing in the region. 

Energy-efficient housing offers numerous benefits and opportunities: it can help to mitigate climate change, tenants and service providers can save on energy costs, buildings can have longer cycles of repair, and people can enjoy higher standards of living. Energy efficiency also has a positive impact on overall economic growth, spurring research and innovation, business development, employment generation and investment.

Despite the benefits of energy efficiency and recent progress in many UNECE member States, there is still much room for improvement. Transition countries in particular need to overcome the “energy inefficiency trap”. This requires funding, experience, technology, motivation and initiative.

Technology solutions have considerable potential to reduce the energy consumption of buildings; examples include passive houses, zero-energy homes and plus-energy buildings. Plus-energy buildings, for instance, produce renewable energy, delivering the surplus to the common energy grid, thus consuming less energy than they produce. Technological solutions are generally cost-effective, and relevant projects across the UNECE region typically see energy savings of as much as 40 per cent. Nonetheless, investment in energy efficiency is below adequate levels, increasing the “energy efficiency gap”between actual and optimal use of energy. But to put these technological solutions in place, we must also establish the requisite institutional infrastructure for their adoption.

Recognizing the importance of these measures, the Committee on Housing and Land Management is developing an action plan to assist the member States with the transition to a more energy-efficient housing sector.

Green Homes can be found online at: www.unece.org/hlm/sessions/docs2009/greenhomes.pdf

For more information, please contact:

Paola Deda

Secretary to the Committee on Housing and Land Management

UNECE Environment, Housing and Land Management Division

Palais des Nations

CH-1211 Geneva 10

Tel: +41 (0)22 917 2553

Fax: +41 (0)22 917 0107

E-mail: paola.deda@unece.org

Ref: ECE/ENV/09/P20

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