HPBA Visit UNECE Geneva 2023

Introduction

The 10th session of the Group of Experts on Energy Efficiency (GEEE) was held in Geneva on the 5th and 6th of October 2023. This report outlines the key highlights and takeaways from our visit, including interactions with key stakeholders and the topics discussed during the sessions.

Meeting with Key Stakeholders

One of the main advantages of attending the session in person was the opportunity to meet with key stakeholders at the UN. We had valuable interactions with prominent figures, including the Chairperson of the Group of Experts and the Director. These discussions provided insights into the strategic direction and priorities of the UNECE.

Presentations by Member States

During the session, member states delivered presentations on a wide range of energy efficiency topics. These presentations covered critical areas such as avoiding energy waste, sustainable resource management, and the development of resilient energy systems. Some key themes emerged during these presentations:

  1. Role of Women in Energy Efficiency: Several member states emphasised the crucial role of women in promoting energy efficiency, underlining the need for greater gender inclusivity in the sector.
  2. Fire Risk in Retrofit: The emerging concern of fire risk in retrofitting existing buildings was discussed. This highlights the importance of addressing safety issues alongside energy efficiency improvements.
  3. Cybersecurity in Digitalised Buildings: As buildings become increasingly digitalised, the threat of cybersecurity breaches in the energy sector was recognised as a significant concern.

Common Challenges

The issues faced by almost every nation were quite similar. These common challenges included:

  1. Lack of Skills: A recurring challenge was the shortage of skilled professionals capable of implementing energy efficiency strategies.
  2. Grid Resilience: Extreme weather events posed a challenge to energy grids, emphasising the need for greater resilience.
  3. Data Access and AI Application: The importance of data access and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into energy efficiency strategies were recurring topics. We were introduced to the concept of neural networks, mirroring human neural pathways, and the “Digital Twin” model.

Global ABC Initiative

We learned about the new initiative called the Global ABC (Accelerating Building Construction) program, which is part of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This initiative aligns with the work we do, and it was suggested that further meetings and participation in their conference in Paris in March would be beneficial.

IKI Project on Embodied Carbon

A new project called IKI (International Climate Initiative) focused on embodied carbon in raw materials used for construction. It currently involves seven countries with the potential for more to join in the future. This initiative is significant for addressing the carbon footprint of construction materials.

Presentation on High Performance Building Alliance

On the second day of the session, we had the opportunity to present on the impact of the High Performance Building Alliance in support of the Work Plan. We highlighted how the HPBI has positively influenced our work, making our efforts more tangible and effective.

Collaboration with the Green Building Alliance

We are initiating a collaboration with the Green Building Alliance in Pittsburgh to share our training model, with the aim of addressing workforce shortages in the energy efficiency sector. This partnership also led to an introduction to the US Government’s Housing Division, which we plan to follow up on.

Closed Meeting on the Future of High Performance Buildings

We were invited to a closed meeting to discuss the future of the High Performance Buildings initiative. During this meeting, we provided feedback on the initiative’s impact to date and offered suggestions for its future direction. We have since had a follow up meeting with the Director and plan to discuss further with the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) this month.

Conclusion

Our visit to the UN in Geneva for the 10th session of the Group of Experts on Energy Efficiency was highly productive and informative. We gained valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities in the energy efficiency sector, made important connections with key stakeholders, and found potential areas for collaboration and growth. This experience has enriched our understanding of global efforts to promote energy efficiency and will undoubtedly benefit our work in the future.

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