Policy - 13/September/2019

Learning by example

Benefits of energy efficient renovation of public buildings

The need to walk the talk is at the heart of the energy transition. Cities aiming to lead on carbon neutrality have the perfect opportunity to do just that by renovating their own building stock. Actions to reduce energy use in hospitals, schools and offices owned by local government authorities mean fewer greenhouse gas emissions and are a good way for cities to showcase the benefits of the energy transition for people’s wallet, health and comfort. The World Green Buildings 2018 report cites a “lack of public awareness” as one of the main barriers to energy efficient construction and retrofits worldwide. By renovating public buildings and shouting loudly to citizens about the gains, ignorance is a problem that can be overcome.

Three building types — hospitals, schools and offices, many of which are owned by the public sector — account for nearly half of the total floor area of non-residential buildings in Europe. The vast majority need to be renovated to reduce their energy use in line with the goals of the Paris climate agreement and to meet city targets for carbon neutrality. Investing in building renovation also greatly improves the health, well-being and productivity of European citizens, says a study by the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), a not-for-profit think tank.

The study finds that a “holistic people-centric renovation” of an office building can increase productivity by 12%. Across the 28 EU member states, that increase could be worth up to €500 billion. Students studying in schools with optimal indoor climate conditions achieve the same results two weeks faster than their peers stuck in buildings that are too hot or too cold. Indeed, optimal temperature, lighting, noise levels and air quality can improve students’ academic performance by 2-8%. Similar gains are seen in hospitals. Patients’ recovery time can be reduced by 10% by improving indoor environmental quality and by 11% by providing optimal lighting. In short, the average length of stay in hospitals (currently over a week) can be reduced by around a day with a societal benefit of nearly €50 billion, says BPIE. All are co-benefits of renovating buildings to reduce their energy consumption.

Try FORESIGHT - 30 days for €29

Already a subscriber?


Comments are closed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related articles

The transition jigsaw: Part 1 – The role of government

Enshrine stability and predictability in law to ramp up investment

Read more

Solar skins for zero energy buildings

Solar skins for zero energy buildings

Inspiring architects to make buildings green and good looking

Read more

How the EIB can become Europe’s climate bank

The new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has promised a Green Deal for Europe. For it to be truly green, it will have to be fossil fuel free and this means cleaning up the European Investment Bank. The development bank this summer proposed phasing out support for oil and gas projects. Colin Roche from Friends of the Earth Europe urges the EIB board to back the plan when it meets in September

Read more

As the world’s fifth largest economy and a pioneer of environmental laws and policy, all eyes are on California as it turns its attention to freeing its buildings of emissions. Ensuring new houses are equipped with solar panels and that they use no more renewable energy than they consume over the course of the year are top of the list, but existing houses and commercial buildings are also in line for an overhaul as part of the state’s bid to be carbon neutral by 2045

World watches as California goes for net zero buildings

California’s policies on the decarbonisation of buildings can become a model of what works in a thriving economy and what measures should be adopted more broadly in the US and beyond

Read more

Building design is key to reducing demand for energy guzzling air conditioning

Cooling in a warming world

Building design is key to reducing demand for energy guzzling air conditioning

Read more