This report compares energy efficiency policy in buildings in China, Germany, and the United States, providing the context for, and describing, policies in these three countries in order to lay the groundwork for future review of policy effectiveness. As a lens for our analysis, we identify four opportunities for policy to impact energy use in buildings: new con- struction, building retrofit, equipment, and operations. Each of these categories presents distinct challenges and opportunities:
- Integration of efficiency principles during the new construction phase provides an opportunity for a building to achieve substantial energy savings at low cost given current technology. Policies that encourage or require efficiency at the time of construction are therefore crucial to a successful policy portfolio where construction rates are high.
- Building retrofit represents the post-construction opportunity to achieve deep improvements in the building envelope. Old buildings that lack current technology or may have deteriorated over time must be addressed through policy that encourages and deepens retrofit.
- Throughout the lifetime of a building, equipment such as appliances, lighting, and electronics is replaced or upgraded. Each time this occurs represents an opportunity for policy to maximize efficiency improvements by providing incentives, setting standards, and labeling.
- Finally, energy consumption in buildings continually depends upon the behavior of their inhab- itants, which we term operations. Government can provide information and incentives to help encourage building users to operate buildings efficiently and choose low-consumption behaviors.