Building efficiency across Europe

Building efficiency across Europe

Urban growth, temperature rise and melting glaciers threaten river deltas around the world. Southeast Asia – from India to China – in particular will be severely affected. Large numbers of people live in poverty, countries are densely-populated and coastlines are long. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the chance that people in this region will be affected by water-related disasters is about 25 times greater than in Europe. How are people tackling water challenges in Asia?

Writer: Oliver Rapf

fall 2014
Feature by REVOLVE

This article is featured in REVOLVE #13 on pages 26-32.

BPIE focuses on policy analysis and shares knowledge through studies, policy briefs, presentations and events, supporting evidence-based policy-making. Our goal is to make a sustainable and low carbon urban environment a reality in Europe.

Buildings are a pillar of society – places where we work, rest, study, and where Europeans spend, on average, 90% of their time. Buildings consume over one third of the European energy supply, and cause the related amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The construction industry is one of the biggest economic players in Europe. Buildings and their impact on society must receive more political attention because they can provide solutions to some of the biggest challenges of our time.

Today, millions of Europeans are affected by fuel poverty and are unable to keep their homes adequately warm, to pay their utility bills or to live in dwellings without defects (leakages, damp walls, etc.). Since the economic crisis and the drastic increase of energy prices affecting all European households, fuel poverty has gained momentum in the poorer EU countries and even in stronger economies like the UK, France and Germany.

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the resulting tensions with Russia once again demonstrate how dependent Europe is on gas imports from and through the region. Buildings consume a large amount of these imports for heating. A major increase in buildings’ efficiency could drastically reduce this dependency within a decade.

Combining high efficiency solutions with the use of renewable energy systems, buildings can become energy supply facilities that will increase Europe’s energy security and decrease its dependency on energy imports. Buildings also have the largest potential for a cost-effective reduction of carbon emissions as well as to alleviate fuel poverty, improve air quality and increase comfort. There are ways to make all these benefits real: building at nearly zero or positive energy levels,

Central Saint Giles, London. Source: Mubus7