chapter  4
36 Pages

Energy efficient solar buildings

Despite the diversity of individual lifestyles in the EU member states, about a third or more of the total final energy use in these countries is accounted for by heating, cooling and lighting buildings. In 1996, the associated costs in the domestic and tertiary sector corresponded to roughly 4% of the GDP of the EU (the number has been estimated from the energy demand, weighted with the European mean costs for oil, gas, coal and electricity1). Figure 4.1 shows that the annual energy-related carbon emissions per capita vary from 0.5 tonnes C02 for Portugal to 3.8 tonnes C02 in Luxembourg. The

levels have been falling since 1985 in many highly industrialized countries like Denmark and Germany, while countries with expanding industrial facilities like Greece and Portugal exhibited rising carbon emissions, due mainly to the penetration of air conditioning equipmenU Traditionally, a country's consumption figures have been determined by living standards, economic growth rates and energy prices, but recent developments in several EU member states show that emission levels can be decoupled from economic output and, to a certain degree, from climatic boundary conditions. Therefore, the development in Portugal and Greece does not imply that a minimum carbon emission level is principally necessary for economic activity. The future carbon emissions of all EU countries could fall well below the lowest levels found in Figure 4.1 if more sustainable building practices were fostered. In this context, it is important to realize that the contribution of passive solar energy to the total energy demand for space heating (solar gains, internal gains and active heating) is already substantial in buildings across Europe. Table 4.1 shows the individual level for several EU member states. 3

Apart from that, increasing active solar contributions arise from the exponential development of the European collector market (Figures 4.2, 4.3).