Towards global benchmarking for sustainable homes: an international comparison of the energy performance of housing
- First Online:
Over the past 15 years, house building standards across the western world have begun to address ecologically sustainable development (ESD) principles. Amongst the range of environmental sustainability issues arising from housing construction and occupation, the energy demand for heating and/or cooling to maintain thermal comfort has the longest history and is most widespread in policy and regulation. Since energy in our homes is mainly fossil-derived, a key issue is global climate change impacts. Since greenhouse gas emissions can be emitted in various locations across the globe with similar results, it follows that a given greenhouse gas emission arising from residential space heating and cooling has approximately equal impact, irrespective of the location of the building. These emissions are therefore an appropriate candidate for benchmarking internationally, yet there have been few attempts to undertake this activity.
This paper reports on a study undertaken in Australia which compares the thermal energy performance of housing in the United States, Canada, UK and Australia. The comparison is based on energy ratings of over 50 house designs from the comparison countries. Each design was assessed as being current and verified as complying with rather than significantly exceeding local regulatory requirements. Issues in design of both the buildings and the modelling tool used are highlighted, and the results are presented. Conclusions are drawn on the reasons for wide variations in thermal energy performance, the implications for benchmarking, and the case for globally consistent housing environmental performance policies and regulation.
KeywordsSustainability Energy Benchmarking Housing
- ADC. (2007). Arizona department of commerce: State energy codes. http://www.commerce.state.az.us/Energy/State±Energy±Codes.htm. Accessed 22 January 2007.
- Balaras, C. A., Gaglia, A. G., Georgopoulou, E., Mirasgedis, S., Sarafidis, Y., & Lalas, D. P. (2007). European residential buildings and empirical assessment of the Hellenic building stock, energy consumption, emissions and potential energy savings. Building and Environment, 42, 1298–1314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- CBSC. (2005). California building standards commission: 2005 California energy code, California code of regulations Title 24, Part 6. Virginia: International Code Council Inc., Falls Church.Google Scholar
- CEC. (2007). California Energy Commission Website. http://www.energy.ca.gov/maps/climate_zone_map.html. Accessed 22 January 2007.
- Cole, R. J., Howard, N., Ikaga, T., & Nibel, S. (2005). Building environmental assessment tools: Current and future roles. Tokyo: World Sustainable Building Conference. September.Google Scholar
- DCLG. (2006). Code for sustainable homes: A step-change in sustainable home building practice. December 2006. London: Department for Communities and Local Government.Google Scholar
- Delsante, A. (2007). Is the new generation of building energy rating software up to the task? A review of accurate. http://www.hearne.com.au/attachments/Accurate%20Reviewer’s%20Guide.pdf. Accessed 20 October 07.
- FDCA. (2007). The Florida department of community affairs building code information system. http://www.floridabuilding.org/c/default.aspx. Accessed 22 January 2007.
- Gowri, K. (2005). Desktop tools for sustainable design. ASHRAE Journal 47(1), 42–46.Google Scholar
- Green Globes. (2007). Environmental assessments for buildings. http://www.greenglobes.com. Last accessed 20 January 2007.
- Hadley, D., & Smith, D. (2000). Recommended programme for North Carolina state energy code compliance study. US Department of Energy, Building Energy Code programme. http://www.energycodes.gov/implement/pdfs/northcarolina.pdf. Accessed 22 January 2007.
- Horne, R. E., Terry, A., Walker-Morison, A., & Wasiluk, K. L. (2005). Holistic residential building performance indicators, benchmarks & standards. Discussion paper for the Building Commission of Victoria, Australia.Google Scholar
- HSP. (2007). AccuRate 2nd generation residential energy rating software. Hearne scientific products. http://www.hearne.com.au/products/accurate/. Last accessed 20 January 2007.
- IISBE. (2007). International initiative for a sustainable built environment. http://www.iisbe.org. Accessed 20 January 2007.
- Low, N., Gleeson, B., Green, R., & Radovic, D. (2005). The green city: Sustainable homes, sustainable suburbs. Routledge.Google Scholar
- Massachusetts State. (1998). 780 CMR appendix J. energy conservation code for new construction low-rise residential buildings. Boston, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards.Google Scholar
- NCSL. (1997). National conference of state legislators: Model energy code for residential buildings. State Legislative Report June, vol. 22, no. 4. http://www.ncsl.org/programs/energy/modelec.htm. Accessed 22 January 2007.
- Newman, P., & Kenworthy, J. (1999). Sustainability and cities: Overcoming automobile dependence. Washington DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
- The Stationery Office. (2001). The building (amendment) regulations 2001. Statutory instrument No. 3335.Google Scholar
- USGBC. (2007). US Green Building Council. LEED Rating Systems. http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=221. Last accessed 20 January 2007.