Building-Related Energy Use

Decarbonising national building stocks

A critical and comparative evaluation of approaches and policies to measure, benchmark, reduce and manage CO2 emissions from energy use in the existing building stock of developed and rapidly developing countries - case studies of UK, USA, and India.


This paper has comparatively evaluated the building-related CO2 measurement, benchmarking and reduction approaches available in the USA, UK and India, to share the lessons learnt in implementing CO2 reduction policies in each of these countries. A comparative analysis was undertaken to evaluate the strengths and weakness of methods such as BREEAM/CSH in the UK, LEED in the USA, and TERI-GRIHA and LEED-India in India. The paper has also recommended robust performance-based standards (in terms of kWh/m2 /year or kgCO2/m2/year) for reducing the energy consumption of existing buildings present in both developed and rapidly-urbanizing cities, which could be adopted by any developed or developing country.


  • Measuring energy use and CO2 emissions from existing buildings
  • Approaches and methodologies
  • Benchmarking energy use and CO2 emissions
  • Review of typical benchmarks and standards
  • Reducing energy use and CO2 emissions from existing buildings
  • Energy efficiency versus carbon intensity
  • Managing energy use and CO2 emissions
  • Policy instruments


A range of policy instruments and measures are recommended to be successful in removing or lowering barriers and encouraging uptake of various CO2 reduction strategies in existing buildings. Among these are appliance standards, building energy codes, appliance and building labelling, pricing measures and financial incentives, utility demand-side management programs, and public sector energy leadership programs including procurement policies. Because culture and occupant behaviour are major determinants of energy use in buildings, these policy approaches need to go hand in hand with programs that increase consumer access to information, awareness and knowledge.

It is realized that the UK is world-leading in its CO2 reduction policy for buildings, but lacks good-quality bottom-up datasets of real energy consumption and CO2 emissions in buildings. he USA, on the other hand, has excellent datasets at the EIA and DoE, but needs to have national-level policies and targets for CO2 reductions from buildings. India is working on both policy and data collection given that energy data is quite polarized between urban and rural. In fact, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency is working with USAID’s ECO-III programme to benchmark a range of commercial and institutional buildings — although the focus is primarily on energy efficiency and not CO2 reduction. Hopefully, robust targets for CO2 reduction and policies to achieve those targets will be set soon.





Prof Rajat Gupta

Low Carbon Building Group

School of Architecture
Oxford Brookes University
Headington Campus
Gipsy Lane
Oxford, OX3 0BP