How do our homes affect climate change?

The building sector is currently considered one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions, and amongst the highest in energy consumption, within the European Union. Expressed in numbers, buildings in the EU demand 40% of all the energy, and are responsible for 36% of the emitted GHGs (see Figure 1). However, there is an immense improvement potential regarding energy-efficient housing.

energy consumption

Detached houses – one of Denmark’s biggest energy consumers

In Denmark, detached houses are nearly 11 times more abundant than multi-storey residential buildings, but provide only double the amount of living area. Nevertheless, detached houses provide the largest total living area of all building types. Their total yearly heat consumption is also the highest of all building types, amounting to around 20.5 TWh (126kWh/m2), which is double the amount consumed by multi-story residential buildings.

To put this into perspective, this amount of energy would allow the ≈500,000 Tesla cars sold worldwide in 2020 to drive around the earth at the equator about 5 and a half times. ¹

Over a year, every square metre in an energy-inefficient building = energy needed to power your and 5 of your colleagues’ laptops

Approximately 20% of buildings constructed before 1980 have not been renovated (see Figure 2). Consequently, they have particularly high energy demands of above 235 kWh/m2². With this amount of energy, you would be able to power 6 laptops for 7 hours a day for an entire year.

Figure 2: Renovation depth of pre-1980 constructed buildings. Percentage of buildings of a specific type that have undergone no, light, medium or deep renovation. Source: Long-term renovation strategy, Energistyrelsen 2020

While 60 years ago, some buildings had an energy demand of up to 340 kWh/m2, the current obligatory standard is much lower, at 30 kWh/m2. The current voluntary Building Class 2020 standard has an even lower energy demand requirement of 20 and 25 kWh/m2 for residential and non-residential buildings (see Figure 3).

energy demand

Figure 3: The upper threshold for the energy demand of buildings stipulated in the Building Regulation during the different time periods and average consumption in 2010. Source: Energy Requirements of BR18 by the Danish Knowledge Centre for Energy Savings in Buildings (April 2018)

The Danish Energy Agency (Energistyrelsen), as a consequence of different measures incentivizing the renovation of buildings, also expects the average energy demand of existing buildings to drop further during the next years.

As a tenant living in rental, it can sometimes be difficult to convince your landlord to improve the energy efficiency of the building, as they might not have the financial means to renovate. Regardless of whether you are a tenant or a landlord, Picadon can help you offset your emissions by helping you invest in companies that actively fight climate change by using your rental deposit. That way, you can do something good with the money you needed to save up anyways, and might even get a return on it. Start making an impact with your deposits by registering here.

¹Assuming the energy consumption of the Model S 60.
²equivalent to energy ratings of F or G.

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