The role of municipalities in the renovation wave for improving energy performance in buildings

Discussion Paper
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For cities to meet the challenge of reaching carbon neutral by 2050, one option is to promote a renovation wave for buildings. A literature review of the initiatives, standards and regulations for energy savings and the renewable energy deployment in buildings in the EU, US and Asia shows the complexity of the effort, and the need to integrate multiple policies. A single policy simply cannot achieve the net-zero building levels needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. It requires the efforts of multiple levels of governments and the collaboration of a diverse variety of stakeholders to adopt stringent
building standards. Examples in the municipalities of the EU, US Japan and Malaysia show that retrofits of public buildings serve as experimental grounds to draft such standards, and are seen as demonstration models to guide private building owners with regard to the feasibility and benefits of combining energy efficiency with the deployment of renewables.
Regardless of such initiatives, informational and financial barriers continue to be the main reasons that affect the motivation of building/homeowners’ energy efficiency decisions, preventing them from choosing meaningful retrofits. The lack of detailed billing data for actual energy consumption levels of buildings/homes is another barrier for renovation as it reduces the means to analyse and develop effective strategies based on evidence. The use of smart technology, which is expected to introduce a new dimension of renovation by interconnecting buildings and increasing the energy performance at a district level, will require a new generation of urban planners.
The best practices and lessons learnt from the EU’s intense experience in promoting renovation of its buildings over the last 50 years will be meaningful for Japan and the ASEAN region.