13.                 Service buildings

All service companies are included in this sector, but most of their CO2 emissions emanate from buildings. This category is also known as commercial buildings, and excludes residential buildings. Examples are trade, finance, real estate, public administration, health, food, lodging, education, and commercial services. Energy use in this sector includes space heating and cooling, water heating, lighting, appliances (HVAC is the technical term), and miscellaneous equipment (such as office equipment and other small plug loads in the service sectors). Heating and cooling has the largest contribution to GHG emissions (Girod et al. 2014).

13.1. Activity level

Since heating and cooling are the sources of GHG emissions in the service building sector, the square meter was used as the activity parameter. In 2010, this sector entailed about 38 billion square meters, and is expected to grow by 66 percent by 2050, reaching 63 billion square meters.

13.2. Emission reduction potential

CO2 emissions are expected to decrease from 870 Mt in 2010 to 645 Mt in 2050, a reduction of 26 percent. There is a large potential to reduce emissions in this sector without changing the comfort level of the buildings or requiring businesses to reduce the number of appliances and electronic equipment. Most reductions will be due to increased insulation, electrification of the offices, more energy efficient appliances, and an increase in the use of renewable energy. Tapping into this potential will be different for developed and developing countries (IEA 2012a). In developed countries, retrofitting existing building stock can significantly reduce CO2 emissions. In developing countries, many new buildings are being built, which offers opportunities to reduce emissions through improved efficiency standards. 

13.3. Carbon intensity pathway

The emission pathway shows a small increase up to 2020, but a reduction of a quarter is expected over 2010 to 2050. Over the same period, the square meters of service buildings increase by two-thirds. The latter results in a carbon intensity decrease of 55 percent by 2050 compared with 2010.


Figure I.13  The space in service and office buildings will increase by two-thirds, but the carbon intensity is modeled to decline by 55 percent because of more efficient fuels for heating, cooling, and electricity

Source: based on IEA (2014).