Building envelopes

More than 110 countries lacked mandatory building energy codes or standards in 2021, meaning that over 2.4 billion m2 of floor space were built last year without meeting any energy-related performance requirements – the equivalent of Spain’s entire building stock.

Building Envelopes Jpg

Key findings

Energy service demand for space cooling and energy intensity index in the Net Zero Scenario, 2010-2030


All countries should establish zero-carbon-ready building energy codes by 2030

Building envelope performance improvements are critical to getting on track with the majority of the Net Zero Scenario milestones in heating and cooling intensity (energy use per total m2). To align with the Net Zero Scenario, the final energy intensity of space heating and cooling need to fall considerably, by at least 40% and 30% respectively in 2030 compared to today.

To be in step with the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, all countries need to establish zero-carbon-ready building energy codes for both residential and non-residential buildings by 2030 at the latest, and all new buildings should meet this standard from 2030. This also requires 20% of the existing building floor area to be renovated to this level by 2030, with annual energy efficiency renovation rates jumping from less than 1% today to 2.5% by 2030 globally.

Energy efficiency investment, 2015-2021


Government policies have helped lift efficiency investment in the buildings sector

Government policies are expected to help energy efficiency investment rise by 10% in 2021 to almost USD 300 billion. However, to be consistent with levels foreseen in the IEA Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, overall annual investment would need to triple by 2030. Recent investment growth has been concentrated largely in Europe, suggesting polices are needed in other regions to achieve global climate goals.
Our work

The EBC TCP, created in 1977, carries out research and development efforts towards near-zero energy and carbon emissions in the built environment. Activities under the EBC TCP focus on the integration of energy-efficient and sustainable technologies into healthy buildings and communities.

The DHC TCP conducts research and development as well as policy analysis and international co-operation to increase the market penetration of district heating and cooling systems with low environmental impact.

The HPT TCP functions as an international framework of co-operation and knowledge exchange for the different stakeholders in the field of heat pumping technologies used for heating, cooling, air-conditioning and refrigeration in buildings, industries, thermal grids and other applications. The mission of the HPT TCP is to accelerate the transformation to an efficient, renewable, clean and secure energy sector in its member countries and beyond through collaboration research, demonstration and data collection and through enabling innovations and deployment in the area of heat pumping technologies.

Established in 1993, the PVPS TCP supports international collaborative efforts to enhance the role of photovoltaic solar energy (PV) as a cornerstone in the transition to sustainable energy systems. The PVPS TCP seeks to serve as a global reference for policy and industry decision makers; to act as an impartial and reliable source of information on trends, markets and costs; and to provide meaningful guidelines and recommended practices for state-of-the-art PV applications.

Through multi-disciplinary international collaborative research and knowledge exchange, as well as market and policy recommendations, the SHC TCP works to increase the deployment rate of solar heating and cooling systems by breaking down the technical and non-technical barriers to increase deployment.