Energy Efficiency and Environmental Sustainability of Housing


Ebru Ergöz Karahan
Ozyegin University
Faculty of Architecture and Design
Istanbul, Turkey /

Catalina Turcu
University College London
Bartlett School of the Built Environment
London, UK

Henk Visscher
Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
Delft University of Technology
Delft, The Netherlands

Central themes
Energy is a fundamental and strategic ingredient of our modern society and used in every aspect of daily life in our cities and communities. It is also connected with key challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation, security, poverty, health, food production, agriculture, and water resources, among others. The production of energy worldwide is responsible for 87% of global greenhouse gas emissions and to bring emissions down towards net-zero is one of the world’s biggest challenges in the years ahead. The housing sector is responsible for 27% of the total global energy consumption (or 24% of total greenhouse gas emissions) and so, it faces challenges in terms of planning, design, construction of new housing, and renovation and maintenance of the existing stock. Dwellings have to use less energy and have higher thermal performance. Evaluation of citywide housing energy tools and approaches to energy efficient neighbourhoods, and the importance of low-carbon services and facilities that support housing, have also come into focus in recent years. Hence, today, the energy efficiency of housing and its wider environmental sustainability are important areas of investigation for the research and policy communities.

The Energy Efficiency and Environmental Sustainability of Housing (EEESH) Working Group provides a forum for research-based discussions about specific aspects of energy efficient housing, as well as wider environmental sustainability aspects of housing. It aims to look at:

  • Key concepts and methodologies; technologies and policies
  • Applications for different stages in the housing process i.e. planning/ policy, design, certification, regulation/ legislation, construction, occupation, renovation/ demolition, pre- and post-occupancy evaluations etc.
  • Lessons and implications for policymaking and industry
  • Relevance to SDG7 (affordable and clean energy), SDG11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG17 (partnership for the goals) goals, targets and performance
  • Implications to wider economic, social and institutional frameworks or debates.

Activities in 2022
The EEESH Working Group has been organising ENHR conference tracks since 2013; and has welcomed over the years participants from Europe (including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Albania, Turkey), the US, Iran, India, China and Australia.

We organised another successful workshop at the 2022 ENHR conference in Barcelona which took place between 30 August and 2 Sept. Nine papers were presented in Barcelona, looking at the relationship between income and energy efficiency; alternative measures of fuel poverty; legal barriers to residential energy efficiency; low-carbon co-housing; residential retrofit scenarios; post-occupancy behaviour in energy retrofits; impact of energy efficiency on housing costs; and overall challenges to national energy efficiency programmes. The papers were based on studies in China, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, and presented by researchers at various stages in their careers. Each paper presentation was followed by feedback from a named discussant, Q&A from the rest of the workshop’s attendants and wider discussion.

Future plans and activities
The EEESH Working Group plans to run a conference track at the 2023 ENHR conference in Łódź, Poland, which will take place in June 2023. At this conference we will host a special session on net-zero urban transitions co-curated with Dr Georgia Alexandri (Leibniz IRS), Dr Annegret Haase (Helmholtz UFZ) and Dr Matthias Bernt (Humboldt University). See here for further information.”