Approximately one third of primary energy is consumed in non-industrial buildings such as dwellings, offices, hospitals, and schools where it is used for heating and cooling, lighting and operation of appliances. In terms of total energy end-use, this consumption is comparable to that used in the entire transport sector. Hence the building sector represents a major contribution to fossil fuel use and related carbon dioxide emissions.

Following uncertainties in energy supply and concern over the risk of global warming, many countries have now introduced target values for reduced energy use in buildings. Overall, these are aimed at reducing energy consumption by between 5% and 30%. To achieve such a target, international cooperation, in which research activities and knowledge can be shared, is seen as an essential activity.

The International Energy Agency Energy in Buildings and Communities (EBC) Programme carries out research and development activities toward near-zero energy and carbon emissions in the built environment. These joint collaborative research projects (‘Annexes’) are directed at energy saving technologies and activities that support technology application in practice. Results are also used in the formulation of international and national energy conservation policies and standards.

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Benefits and Policy Output

Many current and former researchers from EBC projects are often directly involved in formulating standards, regulations and codes and will use the knowledge gained in their work for EBC to inform and improve these codes and standards. This indirect form of deployment can be one through which the Programme has a strong although less obvious impact.

EBC projects and activities have produced durable decision-making tools and integrated systems technologies. Outcomes from the Programme are published through many seminars and conferences, and through the website.

The R&D strategies are derived from various research drivers, national programmes within IEA countries, and periodic international think tank workshops. The R&D strategies apply to residential, commercial, office buildings and community systems.

EBC is one out of eight building-related Technology Co-operation Programmes within the IEA's energy technology network. High Priority Research Themes include;

  1. Integrated planning and building design
  2. Building energy systems
  3. Building envelope
  4. Community scale methods
  5. Real building energy use

The countries currently participating in the IEA EBC Technology Co-operation Programme are listed here

Ireland is represented on the Executive Committee by Prof J Owen Lewis

13 Mt Merrion Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin A94 X2K5


DisseminationPublications from the EBC research projects can take several different forms: printed books and reports, electronic publications in pdf format, or software programs. More information can be found here
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