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The challenges of energy efficiency innovations in the Nordic building sector

Greener Markets and Cleaner Technologies (GMCT)

image of The challenges of energy efficiency innovations in the Nordic building sector

The development and diffusion of environmental technologies, which is considered to be one way of achieving the dual goals of maintaining competitiveness in a dynamic and knowledge-based economy while integrating environmental consideration in this process, may be influenced by a number of sector-specific conditions. In light of this, case studies of energy efficiency innovations in the Nordic building sector were carried out as a part of two-year research project on Green Market and Cleaner Technologies - Leading Nordic Innovation and Technological Potential for Future Markets. The studies looked into the characteristics of the industry as well as other issues influencing the three key activities of an innovation system - access to knowledge, access to resources and market formation. This report highlights some features of the building industry as well as their products which tend to pose constraints to the three innovation activities in the sector. It elucidates several strategies deployed by innovating companies to overcome some of the constraints and points to specific areas for policy interventions needed to effectively enhance innovation activities in the sector.

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Introduction

The building sector is considered an important arena for environmental action because of the scale of impacts. World wide, the built environment direct and indirect contribution to environmental impacts is estimated in the range of 30% to 40 % of total impacts (UNEP 2007). Energy efficiency is one focus area because of its potential to bring substantial improvements. In the European Union, energy used in the built environment constitutes 40% of the total energy consumption (UNEP 2007). Hence changes in the built environment in the form of solutions and measures promoting energy efficiency provide the largest single potential for reducing the total energy consumption (EC Green Paper on Energy Efficiency 2005). According to the EC Directive on the energy performance of buildings an estimated 40 Mtoe could be saved by year 2020, corresponding to almost a fifth of the European Kyoto Protocol targets (Jansen 2004, EC Directive on the energy performance of buildings 2002). In Nordic countries, the potential in improving the energy performance of the building sector has been highlighted in countless policy documents. Another aspect of interest for this project is also the perceived potential of the sector to be a driver for the development of cleaner technologies with its cross over to other knowledge clusters within Nordic manufacturing such as materials, mechanical industry and automation.

English

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