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Building energy efficiency: A research branch made of paradoxes

Sergio Copiello ()

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2017, vol. 69, issue C, 1064-1076

Abstract: The literature dealing with building energy efficiency has long since debated about the possible occurrence of the so-called Jevons’ paradox. In a nutshell, benefiting from energy savings due to transition to high-performance buildings, may the same savings cause a kind of rebound effect, by acting as an incentive to increase consumptions? On closer inspection, this is not the only paradox affecting the research branch that focuses on the energy used by the buildings and the building industry. A second paradox is that investments in energy-efficient solutions may contribute to energy price control, which in turn lends itself to make the same investments not profitable. A third paradox lies in the need to adopt energy-intensive materials in order to achieve substantial energy savings in operation; hence, sometimes, we just substitute a certain amount of operating energy with a more or less commensurate amount of embodied energy. Here we argue that the joint consideration of the paradoxes mentioned above should not be neglected since it brings with itself several implications needing to be disentangled, whether we aim to get further enhancements in this disciplinary field.

Keywords: Building energy efficiency; Jevons’ paradox; Rebound effect; Operating energy; Embodied energy; Economic viability (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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