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Energy efficiency in the Nordic building sector

Potentials and instruments

image of Energy efficiency in the Nordic building sector

There is an economic potential for increased energy efficiency in Nordic buildings. How much is however difficult to assess, partly because of insufficient energy statistics for buildings. Several barriers hinder the use of more efficient solutions when building and using buildings, e.g. lack of information, energy issues having low priority, and different incentives for builders, owners and users. Climate concerns and the need to secure energy supply are important drivers for energy efficiency policies. Promoting energy efficiency in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions might however induce large rebound effects causing total emissions to be reduced very little or not at all. This might be the case if reduced energy use in buildings is replaced with more emission intensive activities, like travel. To avoid this it is important to include all greenhouse gasses in tax or quota systems, and to restrain financial support to energy efficient investment in order not to make them too cheap.

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Summary

In order to achieve sustainable development, it is important to develop and use technologies with lower environmental impact. An important way to do this can be through lower energy use. Energy use in buildings, including construction, is presumed to make up approximately 40 percent of stationary energy use. Increased energy efficiency in this sector can therefore have a substantial effect on overall energy use, promoting sustainability and achievement of national targets for reduced emissions of greenhouse gasses. Several studies have, however, identified substantial barriers for increased energy efficiency in this sector. These include barriers related to the way the sector is organised, its cyclical nature and a lack of information about energy-saving possibilities. Based on the need for a shift towards more sustainable buildings, the Nordic Council’s working groups for integrated product policies and for environment and economy commissioned an assessment of economic aspects of energy efficiency in the building sector in the Nordic countries.

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