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Curbing the growth in UK commercial energy consumption

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 21:51 authored by James Ivan Scrase
The rate of growth in UK commercial energy consumption since the early 1970s has been approximately three times greater than in the domestic sector. Consumption is projected to continue growing faster than in all other sectors except transport. Increasing floor space has been accompanied by rising energy intensity in many commercial buildings. In the office sector, demand for air conditioning has grown rapidly, and this is associated with a dramatic increase in CO2 emissions. Significant cost-effective CO2 savings have been identified in the sector, using readily available technologies. The Climate Change Levy, and questions of comfort, health and productivity among workers, are pushing energy issues up the agenda for many businesses. However positive action is impeded by barriers in the commercial property sector, such as conflicts of interest between landlords and tenants, poor information and professional conservatism. These barriers act to limit energy efficiency investment, to the detriment of building occupants and wider society for generations to come. These problems will limit the efficacy of existing initiatives that aim to curb commercial sector energy use. The Association for the Conservation of Energy considers that new legislation is needed. This would require freeholders to improve the energy efficiency of their new and existing buildings, in consultation with occupiers and/or unions. Further research is needed on options for sharing the costs and benefits with occupiers and/or energy service companies.


Publication status

  • Published


Building Research & Information




Taylor & Francis





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Department affiliated with

  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Publications

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Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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