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Making our homes energy efficient: UNECE takes action

Published: 23 November 2009


Buildings are responsible for more than a third of total energy consumption in the UNECE region. To make housing both more efficient and environmentally friendly, member States need to invest in energy-saving. Substantial energy savings can be achieved both by adopting the latest technology and through institutional and behavioural changes. Less economically developed countries in particular need to overcome the “energy inefficiency trap”. This requires funding, experience, technology, motivation and initiative.

In Vienna, the UNECE International Forum on Energy Efficiency in Housing considered a draft Action Plan for Energy Efficiency in the UNECE region. The plan will provide a blueprint for improving our buildings’ performance.

The International Forum, opened by the Federal President of Austria, Mr. Heinz Fischer, saw the participation of experts from throughout the region. They shared experiences, and identified goals, priority actions and time frames. The Forum reviewed a wide range of institutional, legal, financial and other measures and solutions that can enhance energy efficiency in housing. These measures are reflected in the Action Plan, which outlines numerous ways to remove barriers to energy efficiency and move us towards zero-energy and zero-carbon housing.

“This Action Plan is a practical tool UNECE is developing to allow countries to seize the opportunities that energy-efficient housing offers”, said Mr. Ján KUBIŠ, Executive Secretary of UNECE. As well as aiding the mitigation of climate change, more energy-efficient buildings can help tenants and service providers save on energy costs and people to enjoy higher standards of living. Mr. Kubis stressed that “energy efficiency also has a positive impact on overall economic growth, spurring research and innovation, business development, employment generation and investment”.

“With this Action Plan, UNECE will walk the walk of energy-efficient homes”, noted Mr. Wolfgang Foerster, Chairman of the UNECE Committee on Housing and Land Management. “UNECE countries need clear guidance and practical steps they can implement gradually to make the housing sector perform better. This plan is being developed to provide such guidance, in a clear manner, and it is based on a thorough analysis of needs and challenges”.

The Action Plan is expected to be adopted by relevant ministers at a high-level segment of the UNECE Committee on Housing and Land Management in September 2010.

The programme of the Vienna forum is available at: www.energy-housing.net/en/programme.htm

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 C H-1211 Geneva 10

Tel: +41 (0)22 917 2553 +41 (0)22 917 2553

Fax: +41 (0)22 917 0107

E-mail: paola.deda@unece.org

Note for editors:
  • Housing is responsible for a substantial share of the region’s total energy demand. According to International Energy Agency data for 2006, 20 per cent of total final consumption (TFC) of energy in the UNECE region (25 per cent, if the United States and Canada are excluded) can be attributed to the residential sector. This share ranged from 14–46 per cent in individual member States, and averaged 20–30 per cent for all the countries. The corresponding carbon emissions of the sector are also substantial.
  • Dwellings belong to the longest lasting and most expensive human technological infrastructure and have very long maintenance and replacement cycles as well as a high degree of inertia. Thus the measures taken today – or their absence – will leave a substantial legacy for many decades.
  • The housing sector remains wasteful across the UNECE region. While the technology available to housing provides a quite reachable potential to achieve drastically reduced energy use, the sector generally maintains inefficient practices. This is also one of the major factors driving energy demands towards even higher levels. As a result, from economic, technological and environmental perspectives, much more energy is used than is justified

The background study for the Forum, GREEN HOMES. Towards Energy-Efficient Housing: Prospects for UNECE Member States,is available at: http://www.unece.org/hlm/sessions/docs2009/GreenHomes.pdf

For more information on the Committee on Housing and Land Management, please visit: http://www.unece.org/hlm/welcome.html

Ref: ECE/ENV/09/P28

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