Background history and development
March 5th marks World Energy Efficiency Day, a global initiative dedicated to promoting responsible energy consumption. Founded in 1998 at the International Meeting on Energy Efficiency in Austria, this awareness day aims to reduce unnecessary waste and support production processes utilizing renewable sources whenever possible. Furthermore, it encourages communities around the world to lead by example with sustainable habits while also practicing meaningful recycling of resources.
Eight years ago, South Africa took the important step of engaging in a high-level dialogue on energy efficiency and security. Now, with only seven years left until 2030 to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), World Efficiency Day shines a light on the progress with SDG 7; providing access to affordable clean energy for all. It is more urgent than ever that organizations like those within AECO & M industries make use of efficient processes powered by renewable sources to meet that goal.
The Sustainability and Environment Network acknowledges that the Built Environment is responsible for 37% of energy-related emissions and 40% of global annual resource demand. The AECO&M Sectors concur that energy efficiency must be achieved across all industries related to the Built Environment if there's any hope of reaching our SDG goals by 2030 and to achieve net zero by 2050.
Global energy efficiency trends and policies over the past decade
As the entire world strives for greener, more efficient energy sources and technologies, collaborations between supply chain stakeholders are increasingly necessary to bridge societal demands. In 2011 it was predicted that worldwide energy consumption would increase by a whopping 40% by 2035 - most of this growth occurring in non-OECD countries. It is now widely accepted that the only way forward is to take an "all hands-on deck" approach. The need for dramatic changes to both our transport and building facilities was proposed in 2011 with an investment of $10.4 trillion, aiming to reduce CO2 emissions by 72% by 2020.
According to the UN, the global progress in electrification slowed down in recent years due to several factors:
Over the period 2017 to 2019, international finance that supported development of renewables for developing countries declined.
Between 2010 and 2019, the total energy consumption increased by 25% yet the share of renewables in the total final energy consumption was only 17.1%.
The annual energy intensity improvement rate only increased 1.9% in the decade from 2009 to 2019. The rate of improvement needs to increase to 3.2% by 2030 to meet the demand.
In 2020, 2.4 billion people were still using inefficient and polluting cooking systems.
Those hardest to reach and remotely located are a challenge. Based on current trends by 2030 the number of people without electricity will be 679 million.
Current investment trends.
Momentum is building on tackling the energy crisis and addressing energy security sparked by the war between Russia and Ukraine. There is more willingness now to develop renewable sources of energy if government grants, policies and regulations support industries effort to move in the right direction towards net zero. As a case in point, Vast Solar in South Australia recently received a $65 Million financial boost to their dispatchable solar thermal technology from ARENA which will help to create up to 450 regional jobs during construction and 70 ongoing operational roles in the plant operation and maintenance areas.
The Australian Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said, "The scale of the energy transformation underway is massive – it’s great to see an Australian company developing breakthrough technology to create jobs and clean, reliable and affordable power in the regions,” and acknowledge that Vast Solar’s technology could be a game changer for Australia and the world''.
Australia is a renewable energy giant, capable of supplying not only its own economy but also those of other countries with cost-effective clean power. With this kind of superpower status, the nation has an incredible opportunity to lead in global sustainability efforts! The turnaround in investment sentiment is gaining momentum as Australian companies and households race to power their homes, offices and factories with wind and solar power according to data published by the CER. After years of waiting, the Capacity Investment Scheme (CIS) is ready to help unlock $10 billion in investment for sustainable and reliable energy options. The landmark agreement with States and Territories will usher in a new era of clean power generation that can be relied on day after day.
" This investment means new jobs across the country, and it will support emissions reduction in the electricity sector and puts us on the way to 82% renewables by 2030,” -Minister Chris Bowen
Building for Resilience
In 2021 the International Code Council (ICC) produced a new framework to support advancements in energy efficiency and GHG reductions strategy with a minimum set of requirements called Leading the Way to Energy Efficiency. The industry statement discusses the important role of energy codes in achieving resilience.
Kicking off 2023, the International Code Council followed this statement with the release of new energy codes and building performance standards for communities around the world to achieve their sustainability and resilience goals. The Energy Codes and Building Performance Standards: Supporting energy Use and Emission Reductions in Buildings is a resource that supports a holistic approach to the efficient use of energy across the entire lifecycle of a building and discusses the importance of a coordinated approach across energy codes and Building Performance Standards. It informs building code departments and code officials on broad recommendations between policies for new and existing buildings.
Ryan Colker, vice President for the ICC and is the Executive Director of the Alliance for National and Community Resilience (ANCR) is influencing industry on the importance of holistically assessing and improving their approach to building for resilience in the face of climate change.
Ryan says that both organizations are looking across how various different systems work. In his conversation with VinZero, in the podcast Building for Resilience in the face of climate change that the ICC and ANCR he explains that the ICC and ANCR are looking at holistic opportunities to drive progress in the world around us and want to understand what influences resilience socially and environmentally. The ICC and ANCR are looking at intersections within the broader community and in the buildings themselves to understand how to best support the people using these spaces. Ryan is seeing forward progress with financial investment from the US market and from government.
''We see a lot of pledges to reduce greenhouse emissions by 2030 or 2050, in the building industry to support construction of high-performance buildings. We are seeing drivers from the financial markets and from governments themselves. At a US government level, the Security and Exhange Commission that regulates companies on the stock US exchange. The SEC is requiring companies to report on what their climate impacts are, and this is bring in the need for a sustainability strategy into the board room and moving the discussion forward''. -Ryan Colker
A Systems Approach to Net Zero
The challenges of measuring risks and addressing energy efficiency projects for carbon mitigation vary across sectors and global regions and the monitoring, reporting and evaluation (MRV) are not standardized. It is a very complex process and a whole systems approach is the most strategic way to look at energy efficiency within buildings. There is no one size fits all or a silver bullet solution. Radical collaboration is necessary as well as an innovative use of technology. To help address this challenge, the World Green Building Council launched the Circularity Accelerator Program in 2022 and is intent on speeding up the transition to a circular economy which is lagging globally as only 9% of buildings are circular.
“Over one-third of the materials used globally are for buildings, but less than 9% of global materials consumed are kept in productive cycles of use”. - Cristina Gamboa, CEO of World Green Building Council.
The Energy Outlook to 2050
British Petroleum's Energy Outlook concludes that the energy transition over the next thirty years has been profoundly impacted by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as well as America's passage of a game-changing inflation reduction act. The Energy Outlook examines three potential trajectories – Net Zero, Accelerated, and New Momentum - to determine how each might shape our collective journey towards 2050. To best prepare for the energy system's future, BP is examining a variety of potential pathways to decide which strategy will keep them resilient when faced with an ever-changing landscape. By exploring three distinct scenarios that could come into play over the next 30 years, they're attempting to anticipate all possibilities to stay ahead of whatever might arise. It is clear no matter what scenario they explore, the future of energy demands is changing rapidly as fossil fuels make way for renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectricity. To fully embrace the low-carbon revolution and the scale of the decarbonization challenge, greater support including policy is required to expediate the approval of low-carbon energy and infrastructure. Industry and Government alike need to invest in various alternative technologies including hydrogen fuel, biomass power plants and carbon capture storage systems.
Around the world different sectors are looking at their energy strategies and looking for efficiencies. In the US, there are big changes happening in the HVAC industry and minimum energy efficiency standards were released by the Department of Energy (DOE) in December of 2022. This is significant progress as huge emissions are related directly to HVAC systems and according to the HVAC factsheet, a typical office building HVAC system accounts for approximately 40% of total building energy consumption and 70% of base building energy consumption. HVAC is also a major energy user in other non-residential building types.
Technology, Tools and Indicators- which is the fairest of them all?
Within each country or region there are energy saving programs, tools, schemes and standards and it is not easy to understand the applications, scope and benefits of using one over the other. In Australia, NABERS measures the environmental efficiency of the building against a set of standards. It also measures the building's water and energy efficiency, waste management, and environmental quality. For private homes and apartments, the Australian Nationwide House energy Rating Scheme or NatHERS rating will increase from 6 to 7 star under the National Construction Code that comes into effect from late 2023 affecting new houses and apartments in a Whole of Home rating. A comparison of Green Star, NatHERS, NABERS and Basic is shown in this table.
A comparison of international rating schemes; BREEAM, CASBEE, Green Star and LEED, is presented for each region and the tools are tailored for buildings designed for function and the climate. Each rating system has a unique distribution of prerequisites and credits, and these also change depending on the occupancy classification. These tools are a method and framework of reference for evaluation projects, a guide toward better practices and can facilitate innovation. Building owners who seek LEED certification in the USA for example, can use Digital Twin modelling to simulate several design options and chose the most energy efficient design. A Digital Twin helps to better analyze, understand, and eventually predict operational issues. The Digital Twin can gather data on the energy use of commercial building through monitoring the heating or air conditioning system in peak time in users’ movement and propose the best energy strategy. Siemens suggest that Digital Twins should follow the lifecycle of the building and virtually provide data on energy efficiency from the early days of conceptual design to manufacturing, operational use, and retirement.
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is developing the Responsible Products Framework, to enable manufacturers for the Built Environment to have their products recognized in projects rated through Green Star’s Buildings, Performance and Communities Tools. The GBCA has recognized a number of certifications schemes a manufacturer can be rated through to achieve a Responsible Product Value (RPV). Different rating schemes achieve points in the Framework against five categories: Responsible, Healthy, Positive, Circular and Leadership.
Product Manufacturers can assist projects to achieve a Green Star Rating by improving their processes to align with the Responsible Product Framework criteria and encouraging projects to use these products in their projects. A product’s RPV is added together with all products within the same building layer: Structure, Envelope, Systems or Finishes. Products are weighted by cost.
There is much to look forward to
Potential exists to leverage digital tools at all stages of the policy cycle of design, implementation and monitoring of operations of buildings for the whole life cycle. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) digital twins will be integrated with future policy to achieve greater energy efficiency globally. It certainly is an optimistic thought when we think about the future. We are encouraged to look on the bright side and celebrate that so much progress is being made!
https://youtu.be/INdtcEx8bWA VinZero and it's partners support the delivery of energy efficiency for the Built Environment
For over 20 years the brands under VinZero have been providing software solutions and professional services to Architectural, Engineering, Construction and Manufacturing industries helping them to understand the role of digitalization for the built environment. Businesses both large and small utilize VinZero’s dedicated industry experts to help navigate technologies as they emerge, driving efficiency and improving workflows. With a global focus on reducing emissions and increased focus directed towards industry, VinZero are now turning their attention to providing the linkages between using technology to digitize, and at the same time leveraging the valuable data insights it brings to build more sustainably. VinZero are passionate about helping their customers understand how the technologies they use today can help them to step towards net zero in the future, to build a better world.