Sustainable buildings will play a critical role in the clean energy transition by 2050: IEA
One significant step needed to meet long-term climate change ambitions is to make buildings more sustainable, says IEA in their report, Perspectives for the Clean Energy Transition.
Buildings are currently a big contributor to rising energy demands and emissions, accounting for 30 per cent of final energy use and more than 55 per cent of global electricity consumption. However, investment in sustainable buildings can result in a reduction in buildings-related carbon emissions by an average of 6 per cent per year. At this rate, by 2050 buildings-related carbon dioxide emissions are expected to fall to one-eighth of current levels.
These are the three factors that are necessary to achieve such a scenario:
- Decrease in fossil fuel use. An ambitious transformation of the energy sector will include greater energy efficiency, an uptake of renewable energy technologies, and shifts to low-carbon electricity. As a result, buildings should be able to achieve total elimination of coal use, 85 per cent reduction in oil consumption, and 50 per cent drop in overall natural gas demand relative to today. It is expected that emissions from fuel combusted directly in buildings will fall nearly 75 per cent by 2050.
- More efficient high-performance equipment. The share of electricity in energy use in buildings is expected to jump from 33 per cent in 2017 to nearly 50 per cent in 2050. However, thanks to the adoption of multiple cost-effective technologies, such as heat pumps and solar thermal, the impact of electrification will be reduced.
- Immediate and assertive policy support. Policy support for mandatory building codes and energy innovation must be taken as soon as possible. This will allow for economies of scale and lower the cost of clean energy, especially in buildings. Any present delay will result in more non-sustainable buildings being built, resulting in more than two gigatonnes of additional carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. One way is for governments to co-operate and standardise building code standards across the region.
For more insight into how buildings can contribute to lower carbon emissions by 2050, please download Perspectives for the Clean Energy Transition.