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At the Gleneagles Summit in July 2005, leaders of the G8 addressed the serious and long-term challenges of secure and clean energy, climate change and sustainable development. Agreeing to act with resolve and urgency, they adopted a Plan of Action and launched a dialogue with other significant energy users. The G8 leaders asked the International Energy Agency (IEA) to come up with recommendations on action and to be a major partner in the dialogue.

The IEA took policy recommendations to the G8 summits in St. Petersburg in June 2006 and in Heiligendamm in June 2007 and further recommendations will be taken to future G8 summits.

Buildings comprise the largest end use of energy; nearly 40 per cent of the world’s end energy use is spent on buildings, including lighting, installed appliances and equipment. Compelling and cost effective opportunities to reduce energy consumption in buildings exist both in IEA member countries and in developing countries.

A policy to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and to ensure sustainable development has to include measures to reduce the end use of energy in buildings. Consequently recommendations on policies for buildings are an important component of the IEA package of recommendations for the G8.

Furthermore, the Governing Board of the IEA endorsed five specific recommendations for policies on energy efficiency in buildings in March 2007 and has strongly encouraged all IEA Member Countries to adopt these policy actions.

Among IEA recommendations, is the enforcement and regular updating of mandatory standards for new buildings (Building Codes). These requirements should be based on least costs over the longer term, to ensure that new buildings are constructed to be energy efficient. The recommendations also propose to set energy requirements for existing buildings to be met by major refurbishment.

This study conducted by Ecofys for EURIMA, is a valuable contribution to the IEA’s work on policy recommendations, especially for Building Codes, where the Ecofys Study both supports and extends the IEA recommendations. Showing the gap between existing requirements and the economic optimum over 30 years, the Ecofys study documents that, even in countries with a long tradition of energy requirements, there is still substantial potential to increase efficiency in new buildings without additional costs for end users.

The study also demonstrates that the efficiency requirements when refurbishing existing buildings should be almost the same as for new buildings. Combined with the earlier Ecofys EURIMA studies, this emphasises the potential efficiency gains through refurbishment and other policies to upgrade existing buildings.

The IEA highly welcomes this new study for its contribution to the dialogue among governments, major end energy users and other parties involved in raising the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings worldwide.

William Ramsay
Deputy Executive Director of IEA*