Existing building energy efficiency renovation: international review of regulatory policies

18 Oct 2017

There has been significant progress in recent years in improving the energy efficiency of new buildings, driven by technological improvements and various regulatory requirements and policy initiatives, and there is beginning to be a critical mass of very low energy buildings or even zero energy buildings in various regions of the world. However, a large percentage of existing buildings are significantly less efficient than most newly constructed buildings, and have major opportunities for improvement. Energy consumption from buildings that had been constructed prior to the implementation of recent improved energy performance regulations will continue to consume significant amounts of energy long into the future. Determining the most effective set of policies to significantly improve the existing building stock is a key challenge for energy policy makers around the world.
This report aims to provide an overview of key regulatory policies which have been used internationally to require improvements to existing commercial and residential buildings at the point of renovation, refurbishment, retrofit, alterations, or additions.
Building energy codes can be applied to existing building renovations, but without other policies or programs, are not likely to result in the deep energy savings sought by many governments. Instead, energy codes as one part of a more comprehensive policy package are key to driving more significant energy savings from the existing building stock.
While development of building regulations is conceptually and technically relatively simple, in the reality of implementation, there are significant challenges that arise from varying perspectives and goals of different stakeholders. This can lead to big differences about what is considered feasible and cost-effective, andcan be realistically applied widely to all existing buildings. The uniqueness of most buildings—due to both their physical variations and their different uses - leads tosignificant complexities of policy administration. Beyond these practical challenges, real world implementation is difficult for administrators that have varying jurisdictions, responsibilities, and priorities for different parts of code implementation, enforcement and compliance.
There are best practices emerging in many countries around the world, both in the development of comprehensive policy targets, but also in the implementationof specific building performance regulations, that can be more widely adopted to result in more efficient existing buildings. This review identified some of those opportunities, though deeper research might be able to recommend specific suggestions for countries at different levels of development and ambition toward building energy policy.
Among the policies that appear to deliver the most significant activity in building energy renovation are the following:
• Comprehensive improvement targets• Disclosure of energy performance• Linking financing and other supportive policies to deeper savings• Some role for a “renovation facilitator”