Climate Change 2001:
Working Group III: Mitigation
Other reports in this collection Opportunities, Programmes, and Policies to Remove Barriers

Technological and social changes bring about opportunities to improve the efficiency of buildings and appliances. A change in the production line for the manufacture of an appliance offers an opportunity for introducing new energy saving features in an appliance. Likewise, when buildings are sold, a city government may have the opportunity to intervene and have energy saving features installed prior to the registration of that sale. Targeting opportunities at a point where the stock is likely to turnover physically or contractually can reduce the perceived and actual cost to producers and consumers.

Governments have designed policies, programmes, and measures to tap these and other opportunities, and in the residential and commercial buildings sector they fall into nine general categories: voluntary programmes, building efficiency standards, equipment efficiency standards, state market transformation programmes, financing, government procurement, tax credits, accelerated R&D, and a carbon cap and trade system. The last three items are generic and are not dealt with in this section.

Voluntary programmes, such as Energy Star, which is operated by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exist for both residential and commercial buildings, and appliances (Harris and Casey-McCabe, 1996). The Energy Star programme works with manufacturers to promote existing energy-efficient products, such as residential buildings, personal computers, TVs, etc., and to develop new ones. Manufacturers can affix an easily visible label to products that meet Energy Star minimum standards. These programmes also facilitate the exchange of information between end-users on their experience with energy-saving techniques.

Building efficiency standards focus primarily on the building shell and/or the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system, and in commercial buildings also on lighting and water heating. Standards are being implemented in California and other states in the USA, and also in Singapore and Malaysia, and have been proposed or are on the books in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Mexico (Janda and Busch, 1994).

Equipment standards require that all new equipment meet minimum energy efficiency standards. Standards on household appliances and lighting have been in place in the US for over a decade and are expected to be tightened between 2000 and 2005 (McMahon and Turiel, 1997). About 30 developed and developing countries and EITs have voluntary or mandatory standards and labels in place on more than 40 household appliances (CLASP, 2000).

Demand-side management (DSM) programmes provide rebates, targeted delivery of efficient appliances and lighting to low-income households, information campaigns, and the like. These were pursued vigorously in some states in the USA. The deregulation of the US energy supply sector has reduced the emphasis on these programmes. Nevertheless, in several states that previously had these programmes, public benefit funds for energy efficiency have replaced the DSM programmes, and are typically charged to the electricity consumer on his electricity bill (Kushler and Witte, 2000).

Financing programmes spread the incremental investment costs over time and reduce the first cost impediment to adoption of energy-efficient technologies. For commercial buildings, ESCOs offer energy savings performance contracts that guarantee a fixed amount of savings and are paid through the cost savings.

Government procurement policies have accelerated the adoption of new technologies in the USA and Sweden. In the USA, federal regulations regarding procurement were amended in 1997 to limit purchases to equipment that falls in the top 25% of energy efficiency for similar products (McKane and Harris, 1996).

To effectively enhance dissemination of improved cookstoves, policies, and measures need to be put in place. The introduction of affordable credit financing is widely recognized in Africa as one of the effective measures, which will go a long way in removing the financing barrier. Assistance is still needed in some locations on the design, introduction of centralized small and medium-sized production centres, and marketing of energy efficient stoves, especially where biomass fuels are commercialized – typically as part of small enterprise development. Further research and development work is also essential to increase the efficiency of improved biomass stoves. For example, the British NGO, Energy for Sustainable Development (ESD) is financing and supporting a team of Ethiopian professionals working in household management and supply. It has achieved remarkable success in developing and commercializing two types of improved biomass cookstoves through an iterative approach of needs assessment, product design, redesign, and performance monitoring (Farinelli, 1999). The team consists of consumers, stove producers and stove installers, and pays attention to promotion, technical assistance, and quality production.

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