The building sector accounts for approximately 38% (2011) of final energy consumption in Europe. The energy saving potential of this sector is substantial, with significant potential benefits at many levels. For individuals, energy-efficient homes mean improved comfort and more disposable income. For economic sectors, energy efficiency improves industrial competitiveness and increases asset values through rental and sales premiums. National governments can benefit from reduced energy-related expenditures and reduced energy dependency; while at the international level energy efficiency improvements equate to reduced GHG emissions, lower energy prices, improved natural resource management and other socioeconomic benefits.
There are three main approaches to reducing the energy consumption of a building: the first concerns the building’s envelope - the relationship between the indoor and outdoor space; the second deals with meeting nearly-zero energy conditions or compensating for energy consumption with renewable energy production; finally, the third deals with the role ICT can play in optimising building design, resulting in a smarter use of energy.