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New study looks at the barriers to building energy efficiency in Finland

A new paper co-authored by CIED researcher Dr Paula Kivimaa argues that, despite relatively well advancing energy efficiency efforts, a lack of technical skills, disinterest in energy efficiency and poor regulation are the main factors slowing down further achievements in building energy efficiency in Finland. These barriers were  identified by conducting a study on the perceptions of Integrated Energy Service Companies (IESCs), a boundary actor between the energy and building sectors.

IESCs provide holistic energy services which integrate a range of technical, financial and maintenance solutions to improve building energy efficiency. Energy Service Companies (ESCos), which guarantee energy and cost savings for the client are the most common example of IESCs. There are other, ‘one-stop-shop’ energy service models providing a single point of contact for the customer, but they don’t necessarily guarantee savings. These companies can play an important role in improving energy efficiency and reducing overall demand for energy.

The paper investigates the barriers hindering further energy efficiency improvements in Finland identified by IESCs and offers a novel contribution in that it analyses who causes and who is affected by these factors. The three most salient barriers identified are:

  1. A lack of technical skills (such as energy efficient building practices, building energy planning and building energy management): it is caused by IESCs and technology suppliers themselves, as well as government agencies and other actors such as building owners, builders, managers, etc. It impacts almost everybody involved in building energy efficiency, including customers.
  2. Disinterest in energy efficiency improvement: many private sector actors are interested in developing new business models and many public bodies are not interested in developing new energy efficiency practices. The actors impacted are the IESCs, the downstream building users and building owners.
  3. Poorly designed and poorly implemented regulation: caused by public bodies and government agencies and affecting builders, developers, building owners, planners, architects and technology suppliers

The authors make the following recommendations that could help overcome these barriers:

  • Up-to-date practical information on energy efficient practices and technologies should be easily accessible to all actors.
  • Energy efficiency education should be provided to construction sector workers.
  • More active communication between policy makers, practical actors and implementors (such as building inspectors) could help improve policy design.
  • Take steps to allow new entrants to become more active in the policy process. For example, through including new actors in policy working groups, or better acknowledging them as valuable intermediaries who are able to translate both technical and policy information.

The study is based on the analysis of data from interviews carried out with twelve Finnish IESCs.

Read the full paper.

Find out more about CIED’s work on Housing and Buildings.