Chapter 4: Factors Enabling and Inhibiting Sustainable Technologies in Construction: The Case of Active Solar Heating Systems
INTRODUCTION Greenhouse gases (GHGs) represent the most significant anthropogenic influence on climate change. Across Europe, the domestic sector is one of the largest users of energy, accounting for over a quarter of final energy consumption (EEA 2001a). Domestic sector GHGs are predominantly attributable to the energy required for space and water heating – across the EU, 84 per cent of household energy consumption stems from space and water heating (EEA 2001b). Improvements in the energy efficiency of housing and electrical appliances has meant that in Northern European countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands in particular, but also in France and Sweden, energy consumption per dwelling has fallen since the mid-1980s. In others, such as the UK and Germany, energy consumption has risen slightly: 1 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively (see Figure 4.1). Overall, despite increases in energy efficiency, higher GHG emissions from the domestic sector can be explained by an increasing trend in the number of households and the average size of dwellings, coupled with a reduction in the average number of persons per household and falling domestic electricity prices.1 Mitigation strategies for greenhouse gas emissions have focused on improving the energy efficiency of buildings, both in terms of electricity use and space heating. As Chapter 3 has shown, the external temperature and the level of thermal insulation primarily govern the heating requirement of buildings and most European countries have tightened their building regulations during the 1990s. In addition to improving the thermal properties of the building envelope...
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