The energy policies of the European Union and of its individual members all include a commitment to three main aims: limiting emissions of greenhouse gases, improving the economic efficiency of markets for energy, and ensuring greater independence with regard to energy supplies. Action on both supply and demand is required in order to achieve these goals, and influencing the demand side is particularly complicated, involving attempts to improve the energy efficiency of transport and also of buildings. This article focuses on the latter.
The authors begin by enumerating the main factors that determine the energy consumption of buildings (heating, provision of hot water, cooking and electricity supply), showing how they have changed in the course of recent decades. They then discuss the potential for energy savings in the future.
While they stress what progress is possible, they nevertheless highlight the problem that buildings, especially housing, cannot change quickly. They therefore explore what approaches to renovation might improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings.