News & Views
Why buildings matter to tackle climate change - GBPN 2014 Highlights Dec 14, 2014

Mainstreaming sustainable buildings is essential if we are to effectively tackle climate change and provide sustainable urban environments.

According to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, in 2010 the building sector was responsible for around 32% of final energy use, which equates to 8.8 gigatons of direct and indirect CO2 emissions. Climate change is expected to worsen in the coming years and the buildings sector’s “energy use and related emissions may double or potentially even triple by mid-century due to several key trends”.

What can we do through energy efficiency in buildings to reverse the trend? What is the energy and related emissions mitigation potential globally and in 11 regions around the world up to 2050?

The GBPN Building Energy Performance Scenarios Tool (BEPS) provides the first online interactive module allowing users to search for modelled data for three possible energy mitigation scenarios for the building sector, globally and per region, by 2050. These are the following:

- Frozen,
- Moderate (Business-as-Usual), and
- Deep


The tool has been developed using a scenario analysis, commissioned by GBPN and produced by the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy (3CSEP) of the Central European University (CEU).  From a climate change perspective, running an analysis in BEPS reveals for example, that even if we were 100% successful in implementing our current building energy policies (the moderate scenario), we would still increase the total energy demand for thermal comfort in buildings by nearly 50% by 2050, this is in line with the predictions described by the Fifth Assessment Report.

However, the green area in the figure represents the “Deep” path and demonstrates that it is possible to reduce the global thermal energy consumption by 30% by 2050 providing mainstream adoption of today’s state of the art policies and technologies are applied.

Overall the need for building efficiency as core to tackling climate change has reached mainstream awareness and is gaining mainstream political and private sector support.

GBPN’s work this year:


- Best-practice ‘How-to’ reports on implementing successful polices for new buildings: Designing and Implementing Best Practice Building Codes: Insights from Policy Makers (link)
- A study of the need for and the benefits of a package of complementary policies to embark on a highly ambitious renovation strategy: Reducing Energy Demand in Existing Buildings: Learning from Best Practice Renovation Policies and Case Studies (link)

Tools / Knowledge Platform

- The Policy Tool for Renovation facilitating the comparison and analysis of twelve renovation policy packages for residential buildings from Europe and the United States (link)
- Releasing the first open-linked on-line scenario model for building energy policies (BEPS): Tool for Building Energy Performance Scenarios (link)

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