17 June 2014 — The key findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report relevant to the building sector have been collated in a new document.

Climate Change: Implications for Buildings, is part of a series that distill the key findings of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report into clear language that can be understood by a wider audience – specifically the business community.

It has been put together by European Climate Foundation, the Buildings Performance Institute Europe, the Global Buildings Performance Network, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School and Institute for Sustainability Leadership .

“This document is one of a series synthesising the most pertinent findings of AR5 for specific economic and business sectors,” the authors wrote. “It was born of the belief that the building sector could make more use of AR5, which is long and highly technical, if it were distilled into an accurate, accessible, timely, relevant and readable summary.”

The five key findings of the report are:

  1. In 2010, the world’s buildings accounted for 32 per cent of global final energy use and 19 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Under business-as-usual projections, use of energy in buildings globally could double or even triple by 2050. Drivers include billions of people acquiring adequate housing and access to electricity.
  2. Widespread implementation of best practices and technologies could see energy use in buildings stabilise or even fall by 2050. Many mitigation options promise multiple co-benefits.
  3. Many barriers exist to greater uptake of energy-saving opportunities, including poor market transparency, limited access to capital and risk aversion. But know-how exists on retrofitting and how to build very low- and zero-energy buildings, often at little marginal investment cost; and there is a broad portfolio of effective policy instruments available to remove barriers to uptake.
  4. The very long life-cycles of buildings create risks of energy use ‘lock-in’ with the effects of low ambition today playing out for decades. Using state-of-the-art standards immediately, for both new and retrofit buildings, would alleviate this hazard.
  5. Buildings face major risks of damage from the projected impacts of climate change, having already experienced a big increase in extreme weather damage in recent decades. There is likely to be significant regional variation in the intensity and nature of such impacts.

Read the full document.