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Nordic analysis of climate friendly buildings

  • Publisert 28.02.2010
  • Sist oppdatert 15.04.2011
This report summarizes the findings of the work conducted within the project “Nordic Analysis of Climate Friendly Buildings”, financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Frontpage report

The main goal of the project was to establish a knowledge and decision base for a Nordic innovation program that will promote the development and demonstration of low energy and climate friendly buildings. The innovation program should support a development that brings the Nordic countries to an international forefront with respect to business strongholds and market penetration of low energy and climate friendly buildings.


Suggestions for main topics for a Nordic innovation program

Based on the findings in this project, the following main focus areas are recommended for the innovation program:

  1. Analyzing and evaluating principles and experiences with codes, standards and incentives.

  2. The development of total LEB concepts including evaluation and verification of demonstration buildings with very high energy performance.

  3. The development and testing of cost-effective technologies for LEBs, especially with respect to high performance envelope technologies and energy supply systems for low loads.


The first focus area would pave the ground for a larger common Nordic market, making it easier for exchange of products and solutions across borders. The second focus area would serve as “Nordic leading stars” for developing internal markets and for making the Nordic countries more visible and pro-viding striking power versus the larger mid-European countries. Such an activity would also serve as an important testing ground for new products and solutions (focus area 3) for the internal Nordic market and for export to other countries.



In March 2007, the European Council declared clear goals for 2020: Reduction of 20% of the total energy consumption; 20% contribution of Renewable energies to total energy production; 20% reduction of Greenhouse gases (GHG) below 1990 emissions. In Europe, buildings are responsible for as much as 40% of the energy use and 36% of the CO2 emissions. In this context, the building sector must assume very ambitious objectives: 165 Mtoe (millions of tons of oil equivalent) in energy reduction and contribute with 50 Mtoe from Renewable energies in 2020. To understand the nature of the challenge, these figures are equivalent to the total joint energy consumption of Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland in 2004.


The European construction sector accounts for more that 10% of the EU’s GDP and employs 32 million people, making it the biggest industrial employer in Europe. There is a stock of 160 million buildings in the EU. The present rate of construction is between 1-2% in all European countries. Thus, in addition to setting high energy ambitions for new buildings, large ef-forts in energy efficient renovation of the existing building stock are impera-tive to reach the EU 2020 goals.


In Europe the population is estimated to increase with over 1.2 % until 2020, which means that the construction and renovation of buildings will continue. Globally, the construction market is expected to increase by 70% over the next decade, becoming a $12.7 trillion market and accounting for 13.4% of world GDP.


Large potential for value creation

Recent reports from Sweden and Norway indicate a large potential for value creation related to the construction of low energy buildings. In Norway, two recent studies estimate that a strongly increased emphasis on the construction and renovation of low energy buildings is needed in order to reach the EU 2020 goals. The reports estimates such activities will create an increased business potential of NOK 80 billion, and about 80 000 new jobs from 2010 to 2020.


A report from the Swedish building industry estimates that there is a need for 50 000 new jobs in the construction industry to take care of the needed energy renovations of existing buildings towards 2020. The report also predicts an increased turnover of 50 billion per year related to energy renovation of the building stock.


Growing markets - new requirements

The growing markets with new requirements are an excellent opportunity for the building industry to develop new products, services and processes for low energy buildings.


The above numbers clearly illustrate that there is a tremendous potential for energy savings, CO2-mitigation, and value creation within the market for low energy and climate friendly buildings. To develop new innovations requires a stable and large market. Possibilities of a larger market within the Nordic countries would be beneficial. When established in the market, it will be easier to further develop the products, services and processes for export to other countries.


Nordic co-operation enhance opportunities

The results of this project indicate that a joint Nordic co-operation would significantly enhance our opportunities to take a leading role in the development of the LEB market. All the 45 representatives of the building industry that were interviewed considered a Nordic innovation program to be useful. Generally, they thought that a common program could increase the Nordic LEB business strongholds, and lead to higher market penetration for Nordic LEB products and services.


The analysis showed that the Nordic countries have many similarities with respect to LEB development and business strongholds. However, there are a range of different strengths and experiences that would benefit from a joint Nordic cooperation. 


The work has been financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers.


Low energy and climate friendly buildings are not unanimously defined. In this project the term will encompass buildings with an energy performance at least 25% lower than current national building regulations, and includes passive houses and zero energy/emission standards. In the following text, such buildings will be denoted LEB (Low Energy Buildings).


Main authors

Inger Andresen, SINTEF Building and Infrastructure, Norway

Kirsten Engelund Thomsen, SBi, Denmark

Åsa Wahlstrøm, CIT Energy Management, Sweden