[10] The impact of energy efficiency on home value

When buying a home, it is good practice to check its utility bills and energy label. In 2010, energy performance of a home was however not yet a strong determinant of price except possibly in some extreme cases.

This made sense since a typical purchase price of a home today may be 250 times its annual energy bill. That’s why our mortgage payments are so much higher than our utility bills.

This situation changed over the past years [63]. Nowadays, few buyers will omit to ask for past utility bills, and a poor energy performance will reflect badly on the value of a property.

[9] Sometimes, energy availability trumps efficiency

With the mobile revolution, we often need small amounts of energy (and power 😊). It will be good to have energy scavenging devices giving us ubiquitous power using piezoelectricity, thermoelectricity, electromagnetism or photovoltaics. Since energy efficiency is less critical for these minute demands, even wireless electricity could be considered.

[8] Branding, marketing and selling energy efficiency

Marketing energy efficiency is so 2010. IEADSM even ran a branding project on energy efficiency.

Rising energy prices combined with environmental concerns have meanwhile turned the tide on consumer attitudes. In a more recent 2014 survey, Accenture found that consumers have a keen interest in electricity savings, home energy audits, home automation and home energy generation.

The ‘coolness factor’ of energy efficiency is on the rise. Can we look forward to more apps and incubation centres dedicated to it?

[7] The sustainability of urban versus rural communities

Well over two thirds of citizens in Western Europe live in cities. In some countries, it’s even over 90%. Considering the compactness of dwellings, the availability of public transport, shorter travelling distances and the efficient use of land, there is a lot to say for urban sustainability.

Both urban and rural communities have their own, very different sustainability challenges.

[6] The elusive definition of zero energy or zero carbon

The term ‘zero energy’ sounds contradictory. We need energy to produce materials, then construct, operate and renovate or demolish buildings. Once a building is occupied, we need energy for heating, cooling, hot water, cooking, and we use electricity for a myriad of other energy services. And there is a temporal dimension – to produce energy at the time when it is needed.

‘Zero energy’ in its current use does not mean ‘compensating all energy uses related to the building, over its entire lifecycle, at the time when energy is needed’.

The term works well as a commercial label. For regulation, it lacks precision.

[5] Concerned about land use? Energy efficiency is the solution

Land use from different energy sources varies two orders of magnitude. Over the past decades, the impact of the energy transition on natural landscapes has become increasingly apparent. The mitigating effect of energy efficiency on land use is however rarely mentioned in policy discussions, probably because of its distributed nature, both in space and time.

It is however a fertile ground for academic studies 😎.

[4] Efficient design or efficiency in use ?

LEED and other certification have been driven a shift towards more energy efficient buildings. Yet, most buildings don’t perform as well as was anticipated at the design stage – deviations of 2 to 5 times the predicted energy use are reported. Poorly controlled installations and ‘bad’ user behaviour are to be blamed. Certification based on tracked actual building performance is what we need not to fall short in reducing emissions. The good news: regulations increasingly adopt incentives for smart metering, automation and control functionalities, while establishing legal frameworks to help the general public embrace digitization and (big) data evolutions.