Potential gains in the building sector by means of energy efficiency are huge (for your comfort you may take a quick or detailed reading on many recent reports on the subject). In the absence of accurate methodologies and refined measurement and evaluating systems, generally those potential gains are stated in the form of gross indicators (aggregated economic value, energy savings, GDP), as well as summarized as emissions reduction figures in the case that you scaled up the topic (unfortunately sometimes getting too far up/fortunately we are getting more and more familiarized with the cloud working environment).
A principal and main side effect as a result of weak energy efficiency methodologies is the lack of precision when accounting and evaluating soft benefits brought by energy efficiency into the building sector (and the weakness in methodologies do also contribute to extend unnecessarily the soft list). In that sense it is even more confusing whenever you tried to find out the impact of the energy efficiency performance of the building to the activities within it other than housing (i.e. tertiary sector). Being some of those soft benefits:
For Owners and Occupants:
- Improved durability
- Reduced maintenance
- Greater and more excellent confort
- Lower costs
- Higher property values
- Increased habitable space
- Increased productivity
- Improved health and safety
For Construction Sector:
- Sector integration and supply chain alignment
- Fostering and implementing best practices
- Necessary coallition of energy efficiency management with quality management schemes and others
- Demand of more skilled professionals across the building sector
- Reduced societal health costs
- Improved tax base and lower budget variation
- Higher GDP and enhanced energy security
- More competitive economic sector
- Overall economic sector improved resilience
- Cost and operational benefits by reduced customer turnover
- Reduced emissions
- Reduced system capacity constrains
- Higher Operational Excellence
Above detailed, yet not exhaustive list, of soft benefits sourced from the effective deployment of energy efficiency in the building sector needs to evolve and consolidate within a sector that is in nature large and highly disaggregated. A sector where decisions on energy efficiency are taken by multiple players both for retrofit and new buildings (supply chain, industry, governments, consumers), based on different needs and goals and reflecting diverse incomes, climate conditions and habits. (IEA 2015 Energy Efficiency Market Report).
In the best of cases, when strong energy efficiency initiatives cristalize in projects aiming at nearly Zero Energy Buildings, intelligent buildings, pasive houses, low energy dristricts and the like, it is very limited the number of cases in which the multidisciplinary design teams (assuming that multidisciplinarity is a must for the energy efficiency vision) originally involved, continue to track the operational performance during the life time of the building.
Build and operation schemes that are becoming more and more familiar to bigger infrastructures still lay far from the building sector; in parallel the lack of commissioning procedures related to the operational performance of buildings open a tricky gap limiting the potential learning in the sector (not being a series standard manufacturing, building construction is too old for delivering such a low learning performance to the society nowadays).
Other stakeholders than owners and occupants involved in, or affected by the operational performance of buildings (being energy efficiency the key driver), like utilities, ESCO´s, insurance companies and properties administrators are still far away of coming to a common view that deals with energy efficiency in the building sector not only as an asset for the building but also as a main factor for the fulfillment of the energy role as a social necessity, and because of that a country strategic resource not only in terms of sourcing needs and energy security but also when delivering in a more enhanced society.