Energy use in buildings in a long-term perspective

Diana Urge-Vorsatz, Ksenia Petrichenko, Maja Staniec, Jiyong Eom

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Energy services in and related to buildings are responsible for approximately one-third of total global final energy demand and energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. They also contribute to the other key energy-related global sustainability challenges including lack of access to modern energy services, climate change, indoor and outdoor air pollution, related and additional health risks and energy dependence. The aim of this paper is to summarize the main sustainability challenges related to building thermal energy use and to identify the key strategies for how to address these challenges. The paper's basic premises and results are provided by and updated from the analysis conducted for the Global Energy Assessment: identification of strategies and key solutions; scenario assessment; and the comparison of the results with other models in the literature. The research has demonstrated that buildings can play a key role in solving sustainability challenges: close to one-third of 2005 building energy use can be eliminated by the proliferation of state-of-the-art construction and retrofit know-how in each world region, while maintaining wealth and amenity increases. In contrast, approximately 80% of this 2005 energy use will be locked in by the middle of the century if policies are not sufficiently ambitious in targeting regionally specific state-of-the-art performance levels.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Pages (from-to)141-151
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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