The growth of energy absorbed by the buildings sector emanates entirely from the developing world, as improving wealth and living standards allow people to live and work in greater comfort.
In Rapid and Net Zero, a significant expansion of energy use in buildings in developing Asia and Africa – which enjoy some of the most significant increases in prosperity – is broadly offset by substantial falls in the developed world as efficiency in new and existing buildings stock improves, driven by regulations, carbon prices and consumer preferences. As a result, overall energy use in buildings is relatively little changed over the Outlook in both Rapid (0.2% p.a.) and Net Zero (0.1% p.a.).
The efficiency gains are less pronounced in BAU, with energy consumed in the buildings sector growing by almost 40% (1.0% p.a.) by 2050, accounting for around 40% of the overall increase in primary energy.
Electricity consumption increases materially in all three scenarios, driven by the greater use of lighting and electrical appliances (including for space cooling) as living standards increase.
The increasing use of electricity crowds out the demand for oil, gas and coal which lose share in all three scenarios. The shift away from these traditional energies is most pronounced in Rapid and Net Zero, in which the use of oil in buildings is largely phased out by 2050, and the demand for gas in buildings falls by around 50% in Rapid and over 90% in Net Zero.