IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

Co-benefits and links to sustainable development

Energy efficiency and utilization of renewable energy in buildings offer synergies between sustainable development and GHG abatement. The most relevant of these for the least developed countries are safe and efficient cooking stoves that, while cutting GHG emissions, significantly reduce mortality and morbidity by reducing indoor air pollution. Safe and efficient cooking stoves also reduce the workload for women and children who typically gather the fuel for traditional stoves and decrease the demands on scarce natural resources. Reduction in outdoor air pollution is another significant co-benefit.

In general, in developed and developing countries, improved energy efficiency in buildings and the clean and efficient use of locally available renewable energy resources results in:

  • substantial savings in energy-related investment, since efficiency is less costly than new supply;
  • funds freed up for other purposes, such as infrastructure investments;
  • improved system reliability and energy security;
  • increased access to energy services;
  • reduced fuel poverty;
  • improvement of local environmental quality;
  • positive effects on employment, by creating new business opportunities and through the multiplier effects of spending money saved on energy costs in another way.

There is increasing evidence that well-designed energy-efficient buildings often promote occupant productivity and health (high agreement, medium evidence) [6.9].

Support from industrialized countries for the development and implementation of policies to increase energy efficiency of buildings and equipment in developing countries and economies in transition could contribute substantially to reductions in the growth of CO2 emissions and improve the welfare of the population. Devoting international aid or other public and private funds aimed at sustainable development to energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives in buildings can achieve a multitude of development objectives and result in long-lasting impacts. The transfer of knowledge, expertise and know-how from developed to developing countries can facilitate the adoption of photovoltaics (PV), including PV-powered light emitting diode-based (LED) lighting, high-insulation building materials, efficient appliances and lighting, integrated design, building energy-management systems, and solar cooling. However, capital financing will also be needed [6.8.3].