In the UNECE region, existing buildings, in particular those constructed between the 1960s and the 1980s, characteristically have low thermal efficiency and wasteful heat distribution systems. New buildings are likewise being built with low thermal efficiency. Unless this efficiency is improved, increased housing construction and homeownership will be accompanied by higher electricity consumption, and thus higher emissions.
Buildings are both a reason for concern and an opportunity. On the one hand, some estimates indicate that housing in some cases could assume 90 per cent of all energy consumption in society, particularly in low-income countries, and further that the building sector is not likely to reduce its impact. Direct emissions, for instance, are expected to grow by some 70 per cent between 2000 and 2050. On the other hand, other studies indicate that on a global scale buildings could generate some of the most significant savings in terms of energy consumption. For instance, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated that there is a global potential to cost-effectively reduce about 29 per cent of the projected baseline emissions by 2020 in the residential and commercial sectors, the highest potential among all sectors.
The UNECE Committee on Housing and Land Management has discussed the need to increase energy efficiency in housing and has realized that while the technologies to do so are widely available, there are a number of financial, institutional and legal barriers that need to be addressed. For instance, many of the countries in the region still use construction norms and regulations dating back to the Soviet period. The situation is further exacerbated by the lack of incentives to invest in energy-saving technologies due to long return on such investments and the lack of awareness among developers and end-users.
The first UNECE Workshop on energy efficiency in housing, to take place in Sofia on 21 and 22 April 2009, will discuss specific challenges and opportunities for the UNECE region. The aim of the workshop will be to provide UNECE member States with policy guidance and suggestions on how to increase energy efficiency in the housing sector. The workshop will review the economic, social and environmental impacts; consider current policies, solutions and barriers to effective policies; and discuss the priorities that need to be addressed by Governments. The workshop’s audience will include national and regional government representatives, business practitioners, academic experts and other professionals.
For more information on the workshop, and to view the programme and register, please visit the workshop website (www.ee-housing.com).
For more information on the workshop and the UNECE Housing and Land Management Unit, please contact:
Ms. Paola Deda
Secretary to the Committee on Housing and Land Management
Environment Housing and Land Management Division
Tel: +41 (0)22 917 2553
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 44 44
Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 05 05
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