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Energy use has traditionally been considered the most
prominent effect that our buildings have on sustainability.
Buildings consume energy. Lots of it!
Across the European
Union (EU) buildings
1
are responsible for approximately 40% of
total energy consumption. This is more than for transport (33%)
and industry (26%). Nearly 70% of this energy consumption is
used for heating and cooling our homes, offices and schools.
Today, approximately 85% of the energy use in a building
can be found in its “use-phase”
while the remaining 15%
is concentrated in energy used for the manufacture of the
constituent building materials
2
.
Recent years
have witnessed the re-enforcement of
European and national policy initiatives, incentive schemes,
legislation and standards, pushing for the
reduction of energy
consumption of the housing stock
.
The recent EU legal obligation for
all new constructions to
be “nearly-zero-energy buildings” as from 2021
and the
obligation for Member States to draw national long-term
strategies for the refurbishment of their building stock are vital
in this respect. Further, more specific initiatives that target
the
deep renovation of the existing housing stock
would
be
needed to structurally reduce energy consumption in
buildings
, especially by maximising the energy performance of
the
“building-envelope”, where the biggest potential lies
.
The impact of buildings, however, is not limited to the
environmental pillar of sustainability, but also relevant on the
social and economic sides. The
construction sector
-which
generates
almost 10% of EU’s GDP
and provides
20 million jobs
,
mainly in micro and small enterprises
3
- has been badly affected
by the crisis. There is a growing consensus that the economic
activity generated by a wide-ranging
EU scheme for building
refurbishment
would be key in order to put back to work millions
of EU citizens, while making a
substantial contribution to the
reduction of EU energy imports
and
cutting energy spending
in
European homes.
Last, but not least, recent
EU initiatives on resource efficiency
have put the spotlight on the need to change our current
patterns of
resource use, as a key contribution towards a
sustainable future
.
Source: European Commission
Cooking
Water heating
Lighting & electrical
appliances
Space heating
& cooling
Energy use in buildings