Energy and Low-Carbon Futures
Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in the global building sector to 2050 - Grantham Report 3
Type: Institute reports and analytical notes
Publication date: 2011
Why do buildings matter?
Buildings are of crucial importance to mitigation of global greenhouse gas emissions, and likewise to the global demand for energy. The buildings sector contributes to approximately one-third of global final fuel and power consumption whilst emitting 8.1 Gt of CO2 per year. OECD countries are primarily concerned with existing buildings while fast-developing economies such as China and India are focused on the large floor areas of new construction. The absolute energy demand of residential buildings in IEA member states has been stable in recent decades while global building sector energy demand has been rising at least since the 1970s. The magnitude of potential emissions savings is huge. By 2050 over 80% of global business-as-usual buildings’ emissions (including indirect emissions from the power sector) could be avoided in low-carbon scenarios that may limit global warming to 2oC. Many of these savings are also cost-effective, but may be very hard to realise in practice. Why is this, given that such great opportunities exist for both new-build and retrofitting of existing buildings?