Download the Working Paper here.
The building energy efficiency opportunity
Across Asia, buildings are significant consumers of energy, accounting for around a quarter of all final energy consumption. As countries search for secure energy supplies, efforts to reduce, or at least control, energy demand in the sector are therefore urgently needed. Measures can be as simple as installing motion sensors to turn off corridor lighting or escalators when users are not present; installing light shelves to better distribute daylight to the interior of offices; or upgrading
machinery and appliances to more energy-efficient models.
Though such measures may seem like major investments, upwards of 30 per cent in energy savings can be attained, resulting in lower operations costs to owners and tenants, and payback periods as short as two years.
Barriers to scale and action
Despite the significant savings opportunity, building energy efficiency in Asia has yet to take root beyond a few flagship projects in major cities. This results from various circumstantial barriers which impede wider action. One such barrier is the misalignment of costs and benefits between developers, landlords, and tenants. Often, tenants pay an inclusive management fee regardless of the amount of electricity consumed, hence have little incentive to invest in energy-saving measures. Developers also do not gain from energy saved over a building’s lifetime, thus have no direct incentive in making incremental investments at building design stages.
Other barriers include fossil fuel subsidies which dampen incentives; the lack of awareness of the cost and benefits involved; difficulty in procuring finance; and a shortage of technical expertise and trained professionals.
High-impact solutions to spur greater building energy efficiency
To allow Asia to harness this energy opportunity, further action will be needed from government, business, and the public at large. Fortunately, the barriers and means to overcome them are becoming clearer; in fact, many successful examples have come from within Asia itself. The challenge going forward, therefore, will be to employ already available solutions in a holistic manner that better exploits the dynamic interrelationships between individual measures.