World Economic Forum: Retrofitting Buildings Could Lower Energy Intensity by 40% - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions, Industrial  -  January 17, 2024

World Economic Forum: Retrofitting Buildings Could Lower Energy Intensity by 40%

Retrofitting existing buildings could lower their energy intensity by nearly 40%, according to the World Economic Forum’s Transforming Energy Demand report.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) says in the report that buildings can reduce more energy than industry or transport. The report also discusses how increasing the energy efficiency of buildings could potentially lower global energy demand by 12%. 

The report examines the energy saving potential of three sectors: industry, transport and buildings, which represent 94% of global energy demand.

The main metric in the study is energy intensity, a measure of the energy required to produce each unit of gross domestic product. The research demonstrates that buildings have the biggest energy-saving potential of the three sectors.

In 2022, buildings consumed 30% of the world’s energy while industry produced a 38% share with transport, swallowing up 26% of total supplies. Buildings have the possibility to reduce energy intensity by 38%. If those savings were achieved in full, global energy demand would be reduced by 12%.

There are five ways to save energy in older buildings:

  1. Interest-free energy efficiency financing schemes, with repayments made via energy bills over a maximum of five years.
  2. The development of energy-as-a-service models would eliminate upfront costs. They would also enable energy suppliers and customers to share the benefits and allow co-investment between building occupants.
  3. Providing risk insurance policies to be held jointly by property owners, retrofitters and insurers would remove barriers created by parties feeling they have a lack of agency in the process.
  4. Cooperation with city authorities, technical colleges and universities to ensure the availability of a skilled talent pool to carry out retrofitting projects.
  5. Collaboration within regional industrial ecosystems to ensure a ready supply of materials and recycling services for material removed during retrofitting.

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