Energy production is responsible for most of the CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, as most currently produced energy comes from fossil-fuel power plants. The energy efficiency in housing still remains the major contributor to climate change fight.
The Earth is like a large greenhouse where, instead of glass, heat is maintained by some of the gases in the atmosphere. They allow the warmth of the sun to reach the soil, and then retain and maintain the temperature of the planet suitable for life.
However, the increase of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere has the so-called greenhouse effect as its consequence, which is a global raise in average temperature, resulting very soon in irreversible changes in the global climate and environment.
The global increase in temperature due to greenhouse effect causes:
- Melting of polar ice caps and glaciers
- Elevation of sea level
- Climatic extremes
- Negative impacts on agriculture
Buildings are responsible for over one-third of the total energy consumption. Residential sector, in particular, uses on average 20–40 percent of this consumption, depending on the particular country. That is why it is responsible for a considerable portion of CO2 emissions.
Approximately 80 to 90 percent of total energy used during the life of a building is used during its operation, mostly for space and water heating, while only the rest in the construction and demolition phase.
In the European region, the main sources of energy in the buildings sector are electricity, district heat (especially in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia) and natural gas. This involves both direct CO2 emissions from the building sector via “on-site” combustion of fossil fuel and indirect (also called upstream) emissions via demand for electricity and district heat.
If these trends continue, CO2 emissions from buildings are expected to rise 70% by 2030 and even alarming 140% by 2050 leading to continually more volatile weather conditions and extreme weather events such as giant storms, floods, and hurricanes.
Moreover, the land use changes linked with urban expansion account for a high proportion of the global carbon emissions, mostly due to deforestation and the use of wood as a fuel. It is another impact and contribution of buildings towards climate change.
Energy savings through the renovation of the existing building stock is one of the most attractive and low-cost options to reduce the emissions of CO2 and potentially improve energy security by reducing imports of fossil fuels.
Energy efficiency retrofits also make the buildings more resistant to extreme weather events that are predicted to increase in frequency and magnitude, so refurbishing now assures the safety of housing stock in case of an unexpected calamity. Furthermore, energy efficient refurbishments make the buildings and the apartments nicer and more comfortable, directly increasing the quality of living for most inhabitants.
The use of traditional fossil fuels has negative consequences on outdoor air quality and climate change. By reducing energy consumption, and energy production from power plants, district heating plants, and local heating production, the air pollution will decrease.
It is now time to reduce our carbon footprint and help our planet for the sake of well-being and safety of our children and generations yet to come. Increasing energy efficiency globally is one of the most promising ways to tackle climate change.