IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

6.5.4 Most attractive measures in buildings

From a policy-design perspective, it is important to understand which technologies/end-uses entail the lowest unit abatement costs for society, as well as which ones offer the largest abatement potential. This section reviews the most attractive mitigation options in terms of overall potential. Both Table 6.4 and Table 11.3 in Chapter 11 demonstrate that CO2-saving options are largest from fuel use in developed countries and countries in transition due to their more northern locations and, thus, larger potential for heat-saving measures. Conversely, electricity savings constitute the largest potential in developing countries located in the south, where the majority of emissions in the buildings sector are associated with appliances and cooling. This distribution of the potential also explains the difference in mitigation costs between developing and developed countries. The shift to more efficient appliances quickly pays back, while building shell retrofits and fuel switching, together providing approximately half of the potential in developed countries, are more expensive.

While it is impossible to draw universal conclusions regarding individual measures and end-uses, Table 6.2 attests that efficient lighting technologies are among the most promising measures in buildings, in terms of both cost-effectiveness and size of potential savings in almost all countries. The IEA (2006b) estimates that by 2020, approximately 760 Mt of CO2 emissions can be abated by the adoption of least life-cycle cost lighting systems globally, at an average cost of US$–161/tCO2. In developing countries, efficient cooking stoves rank second, while the second-place measures differ in the industrialized countries by climatic and geographic region. Almost all studies examining economies in transition (typically in cooler climates) have found heating-related measures to be most cost-effective, including insulation of walls, roofs, windows and floors, as well as improved heating controls for district heat. In developed countries, appliance-related measures are typically identified as the most cost-effective, with cooling-related equipment upgrades ranking high in the warmer climates.

In terms of the size of savings, improved insulation and district heating in the colder climates and efficiency measures related to space conditioning in the warmer climates come first in almost all studies,[18] along with cooking stoves in developing countries. Other measures that rank high in terms of savings potential are solar water heating, efficient lighting and efficient appliances, as well as building energy management systems.

  1. ^  Note that several studies covered only electricity-related measures, and thus excluded some heating options.