Buildings • Renovate the old, adapt the new, go all-electric: the three pillars of the building sector’s climate strategy

Global built area growing faster than gains in energy efficiency, and the concept of “sufficiency” only making a limited appearance at the European level, emissions from the sector are on the rise. The decarbonization of buildings depends on their electrification, and on the transition of the electricity mix, which is progressing slowly.

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Climate Chance Observatory

  • The global built-up area has been growing faster than energy efficiency gains in buildings. As a result, emissions from the sector have been on the rise since 2015.
  • Energy consumption from buildings in non-OECD countries, pushed by new constructions and demographic growth, is growing faster than in the OECD, where renovation isn’t at the needed level.
  • In the North, despite gradual electrification, the slow decarbonization of the electricity mix is holding back the sector’s decline in emissions. In Germany and the United States, social movements are contesting the phase-out of gas in new buildings by states and municipalities.
  • In light of its energy vulnerability revealed by the war in Ukraine, “energy sufficiency” is making a concrete entry into European policies; its impact remains to be seen over time.
  • In the South, the need for air-conditioning is rapidly increasing. Isolated initiatives are seeking to scale-up, based on traditional materials and know-how.