Development in Africa, Asia, and uptake in air conditioning will require more efficient buildings

Dramatic action will be needed for global building sector to cut carbon in line with international agreements.

December 18, 2018 |
Four air conditioners on a roof

Courtesy Pixabay

As development increases in Africa and Asia, and the adoption of air conditioning grows around the globe, pressure on the building sector to continue to boost energy efficiency may grow.

While the building sector has made progress in recent years on energy efficiency, trends point to increased energy demand and carbon emissions, according to a recent UN report. “Dramatic action will be needed by governments, cities, and business if the global buildings and construction sector is to cut its carbon footprint in line with international agreements,” the report says. Since 2010, the energy used by cooling systems has increased by 25%, and with increased development in hot climates along with rising temperatures as the Earth warms, that growth will likely continue.

Buildings account for about 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and 36% of all energy consumption. In recent years, adoption of new techniques, products, and technologies, including heat pumps, better windows and insulation, energy-efficient appliances, renewable energy, and greener design, have led to stable emissions in the building sector.

But the greening of the construction industry needs to accelerate in order to meet climate goals, the report says.

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