Methodological and Technological issues in Technology Transfer

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7.1 Introduction1

Those responsible for the transfer of ESTs to residential, commercial and institutional buildings face two challenges. First, they must find ways to advance the best technologies from a great range of new technologies available to the buildings sector. And second, they must advance them rapidly to meet international climate change goals. Buildings are long lasting and community development patterns have even longer lives. The incremental costs of the best technologies is slight at time of construction, compared with the cost of replacing energy-wasteful buildings and equipment. The technologies themselves are varied and powerful. The IPCC Technical Report I found an existing technical potential to meet the sector's global energy needs through 2050 with no increase in energy use from the 1990 level (Watson, 1996b).

Yet, the transfer of these technologies poses special problems. Buildings vary greatly in their size, shape, function, equipment, climate, and ownership--all of which affects the mix of technologies needed to improve their performance. In some countries, the energy used in housing is "free" or subsidised to the occupants. When they do not have to pay the full cost of the energy they use, they have less incentive to use it wisely. Where a large portion of the occupants would have great difficulty paying the full costs immediately, there is strong political pressure to continue the subsidies. Governments and energy suppliers find it simpler and more predictable to invest in increasing energy supplies than in reducing the energy demands of millions of building owners and operators.

The nature of the buildings sector is changing. Urbanisation is having a great impact on development choices, particularly in developing countries, causing a rapid expansion of the housing and commercial building sectors. Due to an unmet demand for adequate housing in many countries, this trend is expected to continue, especially in some developing countries. Driven by these changes, a growing share of the GHG emissions in many countries is coming from the buildings sector. The related government decisions on environmentally sound land use planning and energy, water, and wastewater infrastructure will have long-term effects on population density and ecology systems.

Figure 7.1: Enviromentally sound technologies help achieve many goals.

The challenge is to identify and implement technologies that meet these changes and also lower GHG emissions. Fortunately, the same investments can achieve multiple goals. Investments in energy efficient buildings also lower future energy costs; produce more comfortable and healthy indoor environments; create more productive work places; achieve other environmental improvements; and acquire more durable, long-term investments. Successful technology transfer strategies link climate change goals with measures that produce these companion benefits. See Figure 7.1.

For each country, the desired mix of new technologies will be different, depending upon its unique climate, building stock, energy sources, stage of development, and social, economic, and political priorities. These values will be reflected in its assessment of its technology transfer priorities, which is the first stage in the technology transfer process. Following this assessment, the next stages will be obtaining agreement on the technology transfer programme and then its implementation, evaluation and adjustment, and repetition. (See also Figure 1.2, Chapter 1.)

This chapter will provide a brief description of ESTs to illustrate their nature and potential. The current technology transfer processes are described, including their limitations, focusing on the barriers to change, the different pathways for overcoming these barriers, and the roles of the different stakeholders. Governments play a prominent role in the buildings sector through their programmes and through decisions that affect private-sector stakeholders and community groups. The bulk of the chapter describes experiences with different technology transfer programmes, both national and international, analysing what has worked, what has not, and the lessons to be learned.

The primary focus of this chapter is buildings. The boundary between the buildings sector and the energy supply sector is the building envelope, where electricity, thermal energy and other energy resources are delivered to buildings. Renewable systems that deliver energy directly to buildings, such as photovoltaic arrays, are considered part of the buildings sector. When an industrial process dominates a building's energy consumption, it becomes part of the industrial sector.

While the primary emphasis is on increased efficiency, fuel switching also can lead to lower GHG emissions. This is particularly important in the buildings sector, where the choice among fuels, including renewable sources, is wider than in other end-use sectors. In developing countries, the energy used in the residential sector includes a significant share of "non-commercial" or traditional energy sources, such as fuel wood, charcoal, and other biomass, particularly for cooking (Ang, 1986). The changing patterns in energy sources and the possible mix of future sources will influence a country's selection of its preferred buildings sector technologies.

This chapter also covers some of the subjects in the chapters on Human Settlements in earlier IPCC reports (Watson, 1996a). Because of their influence on building energy use, the chapter includes brief references to land use planning and water use topics. Significant energy savings result from water conservation projects, because of the large amount of energy used to heat, treat, and pump water. The embedded energy and the ability to recycle the construction materials used in buildings also are important and provide an important link to sustainable systems. While most of the attention is given to GHG mitigation, this chapter includes some adaptation measures, i.e.: water management, sewage systems, and building codes and standards.

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