Technology road map: Energy efficient building envelopes

Considering buildings represent one-third of global energy consumption and one-third of global carbon emissions, optimising building envelope design should be a key part of any long-term energy reduction strategy.

This road-map lays out the key actions required to transform how buildings are constructed and explains the actions needed to pursue the energy efficient refurbishment of the existing building stock. It highlights an opportunity for ‘integrated facade systems’ and external shading.

Key Findings

  • In hot climates, low-cost solutions such as reflective roofs and walls, exterior shades, and low-emissivity window coatings and films can curtail energy consumption for cooling. In cold climates, passive heating contributions can be increased by optimising building design and using advanced window and glazing systems.
  • Exterior shading, proper orientation and dynamic solar control should become standard features globally in new buildings and can also be applied to existing buildings.
  • Research and development on the following technologies will lead to greater returns on investment: …highly insulated windows…lower-cost automated dynamic shading and glazing.

Further Detail

The building envelope, the divide between indoors and outdoors, is key in providing comfort, natural lighting and ventilation. It also controls the amount of energy used to heat and cool a building. Construction of new buildings offers the best way to create passive and cooler designs to reduce the need for heating and cooling. Energy consumption for cooling is expected to increase by 150% globally and by between 300 and 600% in developing countries by 2050.

Hot climates require low-cost solutions like reflective roofs and walls, exterior shading and low-e window coatings and films. In cold countries, passive heating like clear glazing combined with blinds can be used to allow sunlight in and keep it in by closing blinds at night to reduce the need for heating.

Existing buildings need improving as between 75 and 90% of existing building will still be standing in 2050. When buildings are constructed or renovated, all parts of the building need to be considered (whole building approach) to obtain full energy savings.

This road-map concluded that it is critical to enable informed consumer choice because it will not be cost-effective to replace many existing windows unless a major building renovation occurs. If window replacement is not possible, low-e storm or interior panels, insulated shades and exterior shading offer significant energy benefits.

To read this report in full, click here.

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