Social Science

Energy Efficiency in the Residential, Service and Energy Sectors : Barriers, Drivers and System Studies

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Increased energy efficiency is a prerequisite for achieving the national energy and climate goals, the goals set by the European Union, and the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the member states of the United Nations. Close to 40% of Sweden’s total energy use and approximately 20% of domestic greenhouse gas emissions are allocated to the residential and service sector. There is great potential for increased energy efficiency within the sector. Almost half of Swedish households are situated in multifamily buildings, where district heating is the predominant heating solution with a market share of almost 90%, while the market share of district heating for service buildings is approximately 80%. By bringing together actors from the supply side in the energy sector and the user side in the residential and service sector, opportunities for efficient energy systems and efficient energy use can be studied. This thesis uses a system perspective to explore energy efficiency work and end-use measures in an energy system, focusing on district heated regions that include combined heat and power production, and the residential and service sector, focusing on multifamily buildings and non-residential buildings. The research explores energy and climate goals in relation to the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals and potential barriers between organizations’ different objectives. In addition, the research focuses on barriers and drivers for energy efficiency. How type of ownership, size of the organization, and degree of urbanization can differentiate this work is also studied. Finally, the research explores potential conflicting objectives by studying energy enduse measures based on different system boundaries. This research contributes knowledge about how increased energy efficiency affects greenhouse gas emissions from the energy system. The integration of the Sustainable Development Goals into the Swedish residential and service sector has been studied in a survey, demonstrating that around 70% of organizations had integrated the Sustainable Development Goals. However, depending on ownership, the integration rate ranges from 60% in public organizations with predominantly rental properties to 77% in private organizations, and 84% in cooperative organizations with predominantly tenant-owned properties. Only 48% of the small organizations had integrated the goals, compared to 73% of medium-sized organizations and 90% of large organizations. Furthermore, 49% of organizations in rural areas had integrated the goals, compared to 63% in towns and suburbs, and 80% in cities. The integration of climate and energy goals are analyzed by studying barriers and conducting a qualitative content analysis and goal conflict evaluation among a small group of energy utilities and housing companies. The integration of climate and energy targets results in the use of different terminology and timelines, and conflicting objectives are seen when different system boundaries are applied. This may inhibit understanding and communication, and hinder the achievement of this integration. Despite the need for increased energy efficiency in the residential and service sector, cost-efficient energy conservation measures are not always implemented. This is explained by the existence of barriers to energy efficiency. By using surveys, the perception of barriers and drivers for energy efficiency in the Swedish residential and service sector is studied, together with changes in the perception of barriers and drivers during the 2010s. The perception of a lack of time or other priorities is the most hindering factor for implementing energy efficiency measures, along with the experience of a slim organization. On the other hand, the major drivers are reducing costs, followed by drivers of an organizational or behavioral nature. The results illustrate a challenging situation among publicly owned organizations, small organizations, and those in rural areas, as – relative to other groups – they experience barriers to a greater degree and drivers to a lesser extent. Positive factors that emerge between 2010 and 2020 are that energy strategies are integrated, and energy efficiency is given high priority throughout the organizations’ working methods. Lastly, by using simulation and optimization model, energy end-use measures of (1) large-scale renovation of a multifamily building stock and (2) the use a hydronic pavement system for snow and ice clearance are studied. These are analyzed in terms of energy performance and GHG emissions based on different system boundaries. The results regarding the large-scale renovation of multifamily buildings reveal a potential conflict. The measure resulting in the best energy performance of the building, which may be the most desirable measure from a building owner’s perspective, risks leading to larger greenhouse gas emissions. The conflict arises due to different use of system boundaries. A hydronic pavement system – a rarely used application in present-day district heating systems – proves to be a possible sustainable solution and a suitable application for the future generation of a low-temperature district heating system. The results underline the importance of understanding system boundaries in general, but also when considering energy efficiency improvements. An overly narrow system perspective and boundaries can lead to unwanted sub-optimizations, with higher greenhouse gas emissions as a consequence.