How to become aware of energy consumption of buildings and incite retrofitting and behaviour change?70% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Brussels is caused by the heating of buildings. Insulation of buildings is significantly reduces energy use. The challenge is to make owners and tenants aware of the potential for GHG emission reductions by investing efficiency measures and change of attitude
In the Brussels metropolitan area, buildings account for 70% of the energy consumption (40% at EU level for the final demand for energy). The building sector is, therefore, the source of significant emissions: 62% of the GHG emissions; 23% of nitrogen dioxide (NOx) emissions and almost 58% of the emissions of fine particles.
This is not surprising at all when you know that the stock of buildings covers an area of almost 64 million m², and includes 220,000 residences, 94.4% of which were built before 1981.
Measures taken to increase building efficiency are very important among the measures taken to meet the ambitious climate targets set by the responsible public authorities. This importance is acknowledged by through the Covenant of Mayors and the commitment set out in the regional sustainable development plan that wants a 30% reduction in GHG emissions by 2025; Furthermore, the EU Climate energy package calls for a 20% increase in energy efficiency by 2020 and a continuation, from then on to 2030.
Besides, the transition towards a net zero-carbon economy that is much less dependent on fossil energy requires that action is taken to reduce socio-economic damage caused by rising fossil fuel prices. Without adaptation, the overall average household spending could increase by 10 to 30% by 2050, and of the regional administrative services by 70%. It would also have a significant impact on companies, given the importance of energy consumption in the tertiary sector and their increased need for transport.
The enormous energy-saving potential in the buildings sector and the potential for sustainable production should be fully exploited. Measures must be planned for their effect because in the long term. Developed countries committed themselves to achieve the global IPCC target of GHG emission from 80% to 95% until 2050.
Better thermal insulation lowers heating costs for the users in winter and improves indoor comfort during the increasingly hot and long summer periods (especially in residential buildings). All stakeholders need to be adequately informed about the benefits of sustainable building refurbishment.
To address and motivate building owners to implement sustainable retrofitting measures and thereby contribute to energy saving and mitigation of the impact on the climate, the following questions are relevant:
How to make an appealing and easily understood case for retrofitting existing buildings be? Which economic and ecological benefit results from upgrading building performance?
To get you going, here are several suggestions
- Visualisation of the potential of an increase in building performance and resulting benefits (savings in €, kWh, CO2/GHG emissions)
- Proposal for relevant and meaningful information for the target group (building owners); development of an easy-to-use application to demonstrate the benefits
- Collection and dissemination of success stories to encourage replication
- Application to inform owners about funding opportunities for retrofitting measures
- Facilitate the comparison (e.g. by visual tools) of the effort to invest to the benefit to the obtained from different energy-saving options
- Set out the prioritisation of actions
How can the understanding and use of the key figures in the Energy Performance Certificate be improved? To what extent do measures taken lead to changes in the value of the certificate? How can the numbers be brought to life?
- Collect concrete examples, aggregate and present technical terms
- Link the evaluation of measures taken to key figures from the energy certificate
How can tenants of residential buildings persuade the owners to retrofit buildings?
Collection of ideas about how tenants can encourage owners of their housing (individuals, companies, public authorities) to implement building efficiency increasing measures.
The solutions proposed should go beyond economic analysis and not be static, but have the following features:
- Be digitally enhanced (inform and incentivise/encouragement)
- Be interactive and combine/visualize building efficiency measures and data
- Facilitate communication and motivation
- Raise awareness of energy efficiency and energy consumption back-to-back with climate mitigation effects
The solutions should focus on achieving the following outcomes:
- Sensitise and motivate owners of private, company and public buildings
- Facilitate comprehension of building efficiency measures and their benefits, both financial and ecological
- Facilitate the understanding of and enthusiasm for Energy Performance Certificates
- Generating statistical data about the energy efficiency status of buildings.
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