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OVERVIEW - International Energy Agency resources for the buildings sector

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Within the International Energy Agency (IEA), there are more than 40 Research and Development programmes constituting its Multilateral Technology Initiatives. These include eight major programmes (Implementing Agreements - IAs), relating to the building sector. This overview article briefly presents where you can find more information on these programmes.

Here you can download the PDF version of this Overview article (see below under 'Additional documents').

Enjoy reading, and feel free to send a comment of your own!

  1. Energy Conservation in Buildings and Community Systems (ECBCS)

In recognition of the significance of energy use in buildings, in 1977 the International Energy Agency established an Implementing Agreement on Energy Conservation in Buildings and Community Systems (ECBCS). The function of ECBCS is to undertake research and provide an international focus for building and community system energy efficiency. Tasks are undertaken through a series of Annexes. These Annexes are directed at energy saving technologies and activities that support technology application in practice. Results are also used in the formulation of international and national energy conservation policies and standards. In total, some 50 multi-annual projects (Annexes) have been finalised and another 12 are in operation. Examples of topics covered:

Click here for more information on the ECBCS newsletter.

The 2011 ECBCS annual report can be found here.


  1. Solar Heating and Cooling Programme (SHC)

The Solar Heating and Cooling Implementing Agreement was one of the first collaborative R&D programmes to be established within the IEA, and, since 1977, its participants have been conducting projects in advanced active solar and passive solar as well as solar applications in buildings, agriculture, and industry. Examples of topics covered:

Since 1994, SHC has produced annual reports which are available for download.

The programme’s collector statistics are the source for information on solar heating and cooling markets worldwide.

Click here for the latest SHC newsletter.


  1. Energy Storage (ECES)

Energy storage technologies are a strategic and necessary component for the efficient utilisation of renewable energy sources and energy conservation. There is great technical potential to substitute for burning fossil fuels by using stored heat that would otherwise be wasted and using renewable generation resources.

These energy sources can be used more effectively through the addition of short and long term energy storage. Thermal and electrical energy storage systems enable greater and more efficient use of these fluctuating energy sources by matching the energy supply with demand. Thermal energy storage can also be used for cooling to reduce or eliminate the demand for electricity, including the most expensive electrical energy that is generated during periods of peak power demand.

At present the ECES IA contains 26 different Annexes of which Annexes 1-14 and Annexes 17-20 have been completed. Currently there are five ongoing annexes:

  • Thermal Response Test for Underground Thermal Energy Storages (Annex 21)
  • Applying Energy Storage in Ultra-low Energy Buildings (Annex 23)
  • Material Development for Improved Thermal Energy Storage Systems (Annex 24)
  • Surplus Heat Management Using Advanced Thermal Energy Storage (Annex 25)
  • Electrical Energy Storage – Future Energy Storage Demand (Annex 26)

Examples of finished projects: Sustainable cooling with thermal energy storage, advanced thermal energy storage techniques – feasibility studies and demonstration projects.


  1. Heat Pump Centre (HPC)

IEA Heat Pump Centre (HPC) is an international information service for heat pumping technologies, applications and markets. Its goal is to accelerate the implementation of heat pumps and related heat pumping technologies, including air conditioning and refrigeration. It is operated within the IEA Heat Pump Programme. Examples of completed projects with the programme include:

There is a free newsletter published by HPC.


  1. District Heating and Cooling (DHC)

The Implementing Agreement on District Heating and Cooling, including the Integration of Combined Heat and Power, deals with the design, performance and operation of distribution systems and consumer installations. The Agreement is dedicated to helping to make district heating and cooling and combined heat and power powerful tools for energy conservation and the reduction of environmental impacts of supplying heat. The work programme is mostly conducted through cost-shared activities. In 2011 Annex 9 (2009-2011) was completed and the summaries of the projects carried out can be found on the website. Example of projects carried out with DHC Annexes:

  • NUON - Cost benefits and long term behaviour of new all plastic piping system
  • A Comparison of distributed CHP/DH with large-scale CHP/DH
  • Fatigue Analysis of District Heating Systems
  • District Heating and Cooling in Future Buildings
  • Temperature Variations in Preinsulated DH Pipes Low Cycle Fatigue
  • Quantitive heat loss determined by means of infrared themography - The TX model

Click here to subscribe to the DHC newsletter.


  1. Demand Side Management (DSM)

The IEA DSM Programme promotes energy efficiency and demand-side management for global sustainable development and for business opportunities. Since 1993, the IEA DSM Programme has worked to develop and promote tools and information on demand-side management and energy efficiency. As a result of this collaborative work between countries in Asia, Europe and North America, the programme has created a 'tool box' of resources and information for governments, utilities and energy companies to help them incorporate DSM measures in their energy policies and activities. Thus, for whoever wants to develop or use demand side management activities or related policies and for whatever purposes, the IEA DSM Programme should be the natural first resource to consult to make use of experiences learned and to further develop DSM and Energy Efficiency tools. To date there have been 17 tasks completed with 7 currently ongoing. Examples of topics covered:

  • Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards (Task XXII)
  • The Role of Customers in Delivering Effective Smart Grids (Task XXIII)
  • Closing the loop - Behaviour change in DSM, from theory to policies and practice (Task XXIV)
  • Market Mechanisms for White Certificates Trading (Task XIV)
  • Micro Demand Response and Energy Saving (Task XIX)

Click here to read to the latest DSM newsletter.

Click here for the 2011 annual report.


  1. Photovoltaic Power Systems (PVPS)

The Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme is a collaborative R&D Agreement conducting projects on the application of solar photovoltaic electricity. IEA - PVPS operates worldwide via a network of national teams in member countries.

The mission of the PVPS programme is to enhance the international collaboration efforts through which photovoltaic solar energy becomes a significant renewable energy source in the near future. Examples of topics covered:

  • Factors affecting the performance of different thin-film PV technologies
  • Crack statistic of crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules
  • Evaluation of the operation of PV systems using different technologies installed in southern Norway

Click here to subscribe to the PVPS newsletter.

Click here for the 2011 annual report.


  1. Efficient Electrical End-Use Equipment (4E)

Thirteen countries from the Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America and Africa have joined together under the forum of 4E to share information and transfer experience in order to support good policy development in the field of energy efficient appliances and equipment.

4E does more than sharing information - it also initiates projects designed to meet the policy needs of participants, enabling better informed policy making. The first Annexes within the programme are:


The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an autonomous organisation which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond. The IEA’s four main areas of focus are:

  • Energy security: Promoting diversity, efficiency and flexibility within all energy sectors;
  • Economic development: Ensuring the stable supply of energy to IEA member countries and promoting free markets to foster economic growth and eliminate energy poverty;
  • Environmental awareness: Enhancing international knowledge of options for tackling climate change; and
  • Engagement worldwide: Working closely with non-member countries, especially major producers and consumers, to find solutions to shared energy and environmental concerns.


BUILD UP Community ‘Buildings related programmes of the International Energy Agency’