Methodological and Technological issues in Technology Transfer

Other reports in this collection

7.3 Current and Future Technology Transfer Systems

The barriers to the rapid transfer of these ESTs include the lack of information about new technologies, their higher initial cost, the presence of subsidies for electricity and fuels, the absence of delivery and maintenance services, a diversity of building and equipment codes, different performance testing methods, public procurement practices, restrictions in building materials and limited recycling (See Chapter 6). This report analyses the role of different stakeholders in the technology transfer process, the primary pathways they use, and the stages in this process. The key stakeholders include the developers, owners, and suppliers of technologies, buyers of technologies such as private firms, state enterprises, and individual consumers, financiers and donors, governments, international institutions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community groups. These roles of these stakeholders are intertwined in each stage of the major strategies that are used to accelerate the transfer of ESTs in the building sector. Developed countries have a very important role to play in technology transfer, since most advanced technologies in the buildings sector are developed within those countries.

Governments play an important leadership role in the transfer of "climate friendly" technologies, which reduce GHG emissions from the buildings sector. The major pathways include information and education programmes, the use of cost-based energy prices, energy and environmental labels, building energy codes, appliance and equipment efficiency standards, leading by example in government buildings and purchases, and government support for RD&D. Governments also play the leading role in the transfer of "climate safe" technologies, which reduce vulnerability to climate changes, through land use planning and infrastructure developments.

The primary role of the private-sector stakeholders is to meet the consumer demand for the shelter and services provided by the buildings sector. While consumer surveys show support for environmental goals, this support may not be expressed in their purchasing decisions (Federal Environment Agency, Germany, 1998). Education programmes that draw this connection are gaining popularity and are starting to influence private-sector decisions. Governmental policies affect the marketplace through subsidy and taxation programmes, the regulation of energy tariffs, import and export controls and laws covering intellectual property rights.

The role of community groups is of great importance for the buildings sector, but is less well characterised in the technology transfer literature than the other pathways. Decisions about land-use, building materials and intensity, energy and water services are made within communities. These decisions are driven by immediate priorities, yet they have long-term environmental impacts. The rapid urbanisation in many developing countries underscores the importance of finding ways to use sustainable development pathways in cities.

It is important to recognise that traditional technologies have an important role in providing building energy services. Natural ventilation provides comfortable building environments in both hot humid and hot dry climates, including India and the Middle East. Traditional methods of heating are used in Korea (floor heating) and Japan (under-table heating). These traditional approaches may be enhanced through modern scientific re-investigation, measurement technologies, and computer simulations. The resulting guidelines for building design based on local conditions and using local craftsmen could minimise the cost and environmental impact of providing energy services. The combination of traditional and new technologies in buildings offers promising results, which only recently are beginning to draw some attention.

The flexibility mechanisms in the Kyoto Protocol could give these stakeholders powerful new tools to advance the dissemination of ESTs. The Clean Development Mechanism is a potential tool for the transfer of ESTs to the growing building sectors of non-Annex I countries. Joint Implementation projects are particularly attractive for reducing the GHG emissions of the buildings sectors of countries with economies in transition (CEITs). By monetising GHG emissions, emissions trading would add value and flexibility to environmentally sound investments.

Other reports in this collection