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com/energy+efficiency/energy+efficiency+in+buildings) 16-FEBRERO-2010

Why save energy?

According to the American Energy Information Administration (EIA) and to the

International Energy Agency (IEA), the world-wide energy consumption will
continue to increase by 2 % per year on average unless action is taken.
According to ASPO, The Association for the Study of Peak Oil, we consume several
times more conventional oil than we discover. That has made security of our energy
supply a political headache as only a few countries, of which some are located in
politically unstable regions, control most energy reserves today.

Oil enough?
80 % of the oil producing nations are facing or already struggling with a declining oil
production. We are using many times more conventional oil than is discovered –
putting supply and prices under even stronger pressure.

Alternative sources of energy

Non-sustainable energy resources as oil, gas, uranium and coal cover 86 % of our
energy needs and as it took 300 million years for the planet to form fossil
fuels, new fossil fuels simply cannot be created.
Renewable energy such as wind, solar and hydro power and bio fuels are a
necessity, but not enough. In January 2007, The International Energy Agency
estimated that renewable energy only supplies app. 13 % of the world’s energy use.
The world must also reduce the waste of energy.

ource: International Energy Agency: "Renewable Energy Fact Sheet",. January 2007

The sixth fuel

The most sustainable and economically viable energy is the energy we do not use.
Energy efficiency has become the largest ‘energy resource’ available. Bigger than
oil. And much bigger than the renewable energy sources. As buildings account for
some 40 % of our energy use in Europe and the US, there is a huge potential in
making our buildings energy efficient. If European buildings undergoing
modernization were brought up to contemporary (low) energy standards, it would
over time save:

• 3.3 million barrels of oil energy per day

• 270 billion euro in annual energy costs

• 460 million tonnes of CO2 per year (more than the EU Kyoto Protocol

It would also create more than 500,000 new jobs, make each country capable of
using valuable fossil fuels on more necessary purposes than cooling and heating
and avoid the energy power to be concentrated on a few hands.

Burning less fossil fuel also has crucial environmental benefits. Energy savings are
absolutely essential in reducing the world’s CO2 emissions and combating climate
See the map of oil superpowers
In the Climate & Environment 2009 report, the Rockwool Group has mapped world
oil reserves country by country. The map shows that only a very small group of
countries can be aptly described as oil superpowers. Based on this, decision-makers
should pay much more attention to energy efficiency in order to create a higher
degree of energy security.
Superpowers - who has the oil?
The size of each country refl ects the relative size of its oil reserves. The colours refl ect high or low
levels of oil consumption
Sources: International Energy Agency 2008, BP Statistical Review and the Energy Information Administration

Some 86% of the world’s energy comes from non-renewable sources – oil, gas, coal
and uranium. Only a few countries, shown on the map, control the largest
proportion of the world’s most important energy source - oil. Our dependence on
the oil and natural gas reserves of just a few countries raises questions about
energy security in an ever-changing political environment.
“Too many people take it for granted that there will be a steady flow of cheap oil,
natural gas and other energy resources that modern society depends on. But the
truth is that most countries are vulnerable when it comes to energy supplies – and
increasingly so. One of the ways to get out of this iron grip is to reduce the need for
energy. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to improve energy efficiency and
buildings hold the largest potential,” Senior Consultant at The Rockwool Group
Thomas Nordli says.
The dire consequences for industrialised countries if the steady flow of cheap fossil
energy grinds to a halt became evident earlier this year when gas supplies to
Ukraine were shut off by Russia. This forced several countries - and not only Ukraine
- to stop or reduce important activities.

Oil superpowers

The Rockwool Group’s Climate & Environment 2009 report literally puts this issue
on the map by showing a chart of the oil superpowers of the world. The map shows
each oilproducing country in a size correlating to its oil reserves. Countries in the
Middle East control 60% of the world’s remaining oil.
Saudi Arabia is the leading country with reserves of 264 billion barrels equalling
21% of the known reserves, followed by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Venezuela, United Arab
Emirates, and Russia.
Many countries that can be described as the world’s economic drivers are heavy
consumers of oil – in particular the United States and China. Most oil and gas
producing countries may experience or expect a fall in production. This will make
industrialised economies even more vulnerable to changes in energy supplies.

Energy efficiency is crucial

There is an urgent need to focus on energy efficiency at all levels. This is relevant
for the oil and gas producing countries as well. For producing countries, in particular
Russia, better energy efficiency will be a vital matter in its aspiration to create
growth and prosperity.
Energy savings through more efficient buildings will save money and create more
sustainable prosperity.
As the Rockwool Group Climate & Environment 2009 report concludes:
Energy efficiency is energy security

Low energy bill

A building normally lasts 50-100 years or more. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to
make buildings as energy-efficient as possible from the beginning. The energy
prices have risen dramatically in the past years and probably will never go
back to the low price level that the world has got used to.
By choosing a low energy building or by improving an existing building energy-wise,
building owners can keep their energy costs under control and become less
vulnerable to future fluctuations of energy prices.
ource: Deutsche Energie-Agentur. Oil rpice savings:

A household example

For the home owner, insulation is not only one of the most effective ways to save
CO2. It demands no change of daily routines, but actually increases the quality of
life. According to Deutsche Energie-Agentur you can save 11 tonnes of CO2 per year
if you renovate a very poorly insulated 150 m2 German house from 1970 to low-
energy standards, installing better insulation, good windows and other energy effi
ciency measures.

The saved 3600 litres of oil for heating would, at German prices mid-2008,
correspond to more than € 3000 per year. If Herr Schmidt were to save the same
amount of CO2 by using his bike instead of his car, he would need to pedal some
70,000 km per year – or 1 1⁄2 times around the globe. Luckily, not all buildings are
from 1970. But even an average EU building could each year save nearly fi ve
tonnes of CO2.
Insulate – or make sacrifi ces
11 tonnes – that’s how much CO2 a family can save annually
if they retrofi t their 150 sq m home (built before the oil
crisis) to low energy standards. They will also enjoy a better
indoor climate and up to €1900 in annual energy savings,
all without having to change their daily routine.

Energy efficiency remains the key to limiting climate change. Even an

ambitious expansion of renewable energy plus strong use of energy-
intensive carbon capture and storage (CCS) and intensified nuclear power
are not enough. Reducing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere to
450 ppm (parts per million) is imperative. At this level there is a chance to
limit the growth in average global temperature to 2°C, according to the UN
climate panel (IPCC). At 550 ppm the temperature may increase beyond this
tipping point.

Source: the International Energy Agency (IEA)

Climate & Environment 2009 I Climate & Energy I The fight against climate change starts at home
Energy efficiency in buildings
One of the key means to reach the goal of emitting 50-85 % less CO 2 by 2050 is to
reduce the energy consumption in buildings. The major CO2 contributors in Europe
are illustrated below.

Heating and cooling are the main energy consumers in buildings and account for
two thirds of a building’s total energy consumption. However, most of this energy is
wasted due to inadequate insulation. By using well-proven energy efficiency
techniques, 70 to 90 % of a building’s energy need for heating or cooling can be
New buildings
A building may last 50-100 years or more. Therefore, it is extremely cost-effective
to incorporate energy efficient technology from the beginning – and very
expensive not to. Today, many countries have standard insulation
requirements for new buildings, but in most cases these requirements are far
too slack to utilise the full potential.

Several countries are speeding up energy efficiency in new buildings. One example
is Canada, where the province of Ontario has boosted energy demands for new
buildings by 21 % by improving standards for wall and ceiling insulation and energy
efficient windows. In 2009 and 2012 even higher energy efficiency requirements will
be implemented.

Even though new buildings have an economic and environmental impact, they only
constitute a fraction of the building stock.
Most of the world’s current buildings were constructed decades ago before oil crises
and global warming became issues. According to the research company Ecofys, 75
% of the European savings potential lies in buildings built before 1975. These
buildings have the biggest energy loss. However, if energy-efficient technology is
used in renovation, reductions of up to 90 % can be obtained.

Add extra insulation

But how is this potential achieved most cost-effectively? The most economical and
practical way is to renovate a building to meet the contemporary energy standards
every time it is being modernised or undergoing renovation. Thereby, extra
insulation can be added when the facade or roof is being renovated anyway.
In fact the European Commission is considering to make it mandatory for buildings
smaller than 1,000 square meters to be energy optimised when undergoing major
renovation work. According to the research company Ecofys, this would cut energy
costs by 270 billion euro and save 460 million tonnes of CO2 per year when fully

The EU plans to make passive houses and similar very low-energy houses common
more widespread and a number of countries are competing to be the first to
introduce such energy efficient standards.
Energy improvement - existing buildings
Existing buildings are responsible for 40 % of the energy consumption and almost
25 % of the manmade CO2 emissions in the EU and the US. This energy waste
has to be addressed in order to slow down global warming.
Too often, cost-effective energy savings are simply not initiated. Or building owners
and their advisors forget to include vital energy efficient components when they
renovate. But the potential is huge.

The heating savings potential of different initiatives in buildings is shown below:

hat's the energy saving potential of a typical building?
The percentages are average values, calculated for houses in Germany. They will therefore vary from house to house.
Source: Deutsche Energie-Agentur

The tools to improve the energy standard of buildings are well-known technologies
ready to be taken into use. They include:

• Thermal imaging (infra red photography) to identify leaks

• Insulation retrofit

• Air tightness

• Energy performance certification

• Window replacements

• Renewal of heating and cooling systems

Public buildings in front
Energy optimisation of public owned buildings must play an exemplary role and be
an inspiration for all citizens. As of May 2008, the EU obliges all public
buildings to display their energy performance certificate in the building and
implement the profitable energy savings measures recommended by the

Huge savings
A huge energy savings potential remains untapped in public buildings. A report
published by the Technical University of Denmark in 2008 documents that a 74 %
cut in the waste of energy is possible in Danish public buildings. This corresponds to
saving approximately 540 million euro which could instead be used by the public
administration on more beneficial purposes such as social services and health care
In France, 12 % of the country’s total building stock is publicly owned. The French
government has decided to double the number of old buildings being renovated
each year and thereby embrace 400,000 houses per year. The French initiative will
minimise the waste of energy, CO2 emissions and save tax-payers’ money.