Thursday, December 10, 2009
New laws needed to design greener buildings: experts
by Matt Whitby
WORLD leaders attending COP15 have been urged to adopt tough regulations on the use of energy efficient buildings as a way of reducing carbon emissions.
A panel of experts hosted by Climate Consortium Denmark said the technology to reduce building energy emissions by 80 per cent was already available.
Senior energy policy advisor from the International Energy Agency Jens Laustsen says a 50 per cent reduction to building energy efficiency was reasonable and rational.
“We have the solutions now, we should start implementing energy efficiency and ensure it is part of a sustainable energy future,” he says.
Rockwool chief executive Eelco van Heel says he firmly supports government regulation to encourage energy efficiency standards despite business traditionally favouring liberal market policies. Rockwool is an insulation technology developer.
“We have the opportunity to reduce 460 million tonnes of CO2, save 270 billion Euros and create 500,000 jobs,” he says. “All we need is the politicians and the regulators to help us through this process.
“We have to accept that 70 per cent of the planet’s population will be living in cities by 2030. Buildings consume the most energy of any sector in the world and are a major emitter of CO2.”
Buildings are responsible for 40 per cent of energy use in the European Union and North America. China is growing to nearly 35 per cent. The International Energy Agency has found Australia's energy efficiency has improved at less than half the rate of other countries. The energy used by homes and commercial buildings in Australia accounts for about 20 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.
Over the next two decades, CO2 emissions from buildings will increase by about 50 per cent worldwide, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts.
The leader of the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Climate Initiative, Kim Carstensen, says financial incentives are needed to encourage energy efficiency standards.
“We need investment schemes to provide opportunity to help people make the right choices,” he says.
Mr Laustsen advocates the construction of zero emission buildings and even pointed out the possibility of private buildings being net producers of energy.
“Let’s produce the energy in buildings instead of consuming it,” he says. “Governments will be able to meet their CO2 reduction targets by making buildings more energy efficient. This potential is enormous.”