Energy saving in the built environment

In the Netherlands the ‘New Gas Platform’ is striving for cleaner and more efficient application of fossil fuels and has set itself a target of 30% less primary energy consumption in the built environment by 2020. The Platform commissioned CE Delft to inventory the institutional bottlenecks and barriers standing in the way of energy conservation and renewable power generation.

The study makes it clear why the principal actors in the built environment do little, if anything, to conserve energy or play their part in creating a sustainable energy supply. The main reasons lie in the only partly rational decision-making process and in concrete barriers and resistance to change. The study report discusses the interrelationships between these issues with reference to a behavioural model.

The problems involved are reviewed in detail for each ‘segment’ of the built environment: production halls, health care, (new) housing, offices and education. The report concludes with a summary of the principal barriers, with suggestions and leverage points for addressing them.

One of the key recommendations is to focus first on production halls, health care and (social, rented) housing, as far as housing construction is concerned. These sectors are relatively free of barriers and good results can therefore be expected in the reasonably short term. Another key recommendation is to embark on a rethink of how to address the barriers and bottlenecks in the remaining sectors – offices, education and private housing construction – which are so broad and substantial that there is little chance of them being removed using simple measures or, indeed, in the short term.


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