Indicator Assessment

Greenhouse gas emissions from energy use in buildings in Europe

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-567-en
  Also known as: CLIM 059
Published 26 Oct 2021 Last modified 26 Oct 2021
1 min read

Historical greenhouse gas emissions from the EU buildings sector show a decreasing trend since 2005. This is the result of the implementation of higher standards for new buildings, measures to increase energy efficiency in existing buildings (e.g. through changing of heating systems, thermal insulation and more efficient heating systems), measures to decarbonise the electricity sector but also warmer temperatures. These reductions were partly offset by the increase in dwellings and by a larger average floor area in buildings. The trend in reducing emissions is expected to continue in the future, but a very strong increase in the renovation rate is needed to meet the overall EU 2030 emissions target.

Greenhouse gas emissions from energy use in buildings in Europe

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Data sources:

The building sector is a key contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, representing around one third of energy related EU emissions. These emissions are partly from the direct use of fossil fuel energy in buildings and partly from the production of the electricity and heat used in buildings.

Emissions from fossil fuels used in buildings are covered by the Effort Sharing Directive (ESD), which set individual national targets for sectors not included in the EU Emission Trading System (ETS), such as the buildings sector. Emissions from electricity generation are covered by the provisions of the EU ETS, which power producers are subject to. The European Green Deal, the associated Renovation Wave initiative and the Recovery Package place the reduction of GHG emissions from buildings at the centre of EU climate and development actions and the recent 'Fit for 55' package proposes to strengthen the legislation related to building emissions.

Improvements in buildings (e.g. insulation, better heating/cooling systems) might reduce emissions from the direct use of fossil fuel energy in buildings, but would likely cause a shift in emissions to the electricity and heating sector. For instance, the replacement of a fuel-based individual heating system by a heat pump heating system would decrease direct emissions from the building but increase its use of electricity (and therefore increase emissions from the use of electricity in the building). As long as the energy demand of buildings is not met by production of renewable energies or decarbonised energy, this will lead to higher emissions, mostly attributed to the electricity sector.

Total EU GHG emissions from buildings decreased by 29% over the period 2005-2019 and emissions projections by Member States show a continued decrease in the future. This trend reflects the EU decarbonisation strategy, which embraces end-user electrification in the residential sector coupled with the decarbonisation of the electricity sector and the improvement of energy efficiency in buildings. However, the decrease in projected emissions needs to accelerate strongly to meet the overall 2030 GHG emissions target. Indeed, to reach the overall EU objective of a 55% reduction in emissions by 2030, the building sector would need to reduce its own emissions by 60%, as stated in the EU Renovation Wave. For this to happen, the current energy renovation rate of building stocks needs to increase strongly: the objective of the Renovation Wave is to at least double the annual energy renovation rate (which is currently at 1%) of residential and non-residential buildings by 2030 and to foster deep energy renovations.

Greenhouse gas emissions from energy use in buildings by country

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Data sources:

Historical and projected emissions from the use of fossil fuels in buildings differ significantly from one Member State to another. In three Member States (Lithuania, Luxembourg and Malta) emissions increased slightly over the period 2005-2019. In all other Member States, emissions decreases have been reported with Denmark, Greece, Slovenia and Sweden reporting decreases between 49% and 64%.

According to national projections, five Member States project increasing emissions (Croatia, Cyprus, Malta, Romania and Spain). However, with the implementation of additional measures currently planned at national level, only two Member States (Malta and Romania) would still expect increases in emissions from buildings. Under these additional measures, five countries anticipate decreases in emissions from buildings of 40% or more between 2020 and 2030 (Czechia, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg and Slovenia).


Supporting information

Indicator definition

This indicator presents past and latest year estimates and projected emissions trends for energy used in the residential and commercial sector in the European Union. Historical data include emissions from the use of fossil fuel in buildings (also called direct emissions) and emissions from the use of electricity (also called indirect emissions); the latter come from the emissions resulting from the production of electricity subsequently used in buildings. Emissions from the construction, renovation or demolition of buildings are not covered by this indicator.


In this indicator, GHG emissions are expressed in 'million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent' (Mt CO2e).


Policy context and targets

Context description

Climate change is one of the greatest environmental, social and economic threats and the warming of the climate system is unequivocal according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In order to prevent the most severe impacts of climate change, countries that have signed up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed to cooperate with a view to limiting the increase in global average temperature and the resulting climate change.

The buildings sector is one of the major emitters of GHGs in Europe. The overall 2030 EU target for a decrease in CO2 emissions and the long-term 2050 climate neutrality objective cannot be achieved if emissions from buildings are not addressed quickly and deeply. GHG emissions from buildings is therefore a key priority for EU climate policy. This sector is also a key priority in other regions of the world and therefore at global level in general.

The indicator is directly responsive to changes in related human activities, such as actions related to energy performance in buildings, energy labelling and the eco-design of products, as well as actions to decarbonise the electricity sector.


No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified



Methodology for indicator calculation

Emissions from fossil fuels used in buildings (direct emissions):

This indicator is based on the official GHG inventories submitted by EEA member countries to the EEA, as well as on the projected GHG emissions submitted by EU Member States under the Governance Regulation (EU) 2018/1999.

Greenhouse gas inventories

For the preparation of their national inventories, countries use the methodologies of the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. Residential and tertiary buildings are included (sector 1A4a and 1A4b of the IPCC classification).

Projected greenhouse gas emissions

For projected GHG emissions, information submitted by EEA member countries under the Governance Regulation is used. The projected GHG emissions referred to in the indicator are those reported under the 'with existing measures' scenario (WEM) and the 'with additional measures' scenario (WAM).

The projected greenhouse gas emissions include data for the entire IPCC sector 1.A.4, which includes emissions from buildings (IPCC sector 1.A.4.a and 1.A.4.b) as well as from energy use in agriculture and forests (IPCC sector 1.A.4.c).

To improve comparability with past data, an adjustment factor has been applied to the projections submitted by the countries to exclude IPCC sector 1.A.4.c from the data provided. The correction factor applied is 14.7%, which is the share of the sector 1.A.4.c in the total emissions of sector 1.A.4.

Approximated greenhouse gas inventory

This indicator also uses data and estimates from the 'Approximated GHG inventory' for the year (X—1). These 'proxy' inventories are reported by Member States to the EEA and to the Commission under the Governance Regulation by 31 July of each year, X, and are calculated at an aggregate level on the basis of the national and international information available for the year (X—1).

Proxy estimates are provided by Member States only for the entire IPCC sector 1.A.4. To estimate the value of the sub sectors 1.A.4.a and 1.A.4.b only, the percentage change (X—1) to (X—2) of the entire 1.A.4 sector is applied to the (X—1) emissions of sectors 1.A.4.a and 1.A.4.b only.

Emissions from electricity use in buildings (indirect emissions)

Indirect emissions from electricity, heat and combined heat and power in residential, commercial and institutional buildings include the part of emissions from electricity and heat production (IPCC sector 1.A.1.a) that are allocated to buildings (IPCC sectors 1.A.4.a and 1.A.4.b) according to the end-user methodology developed by the EEA.

Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap filling has been specified. Probably this info has been added together with indicator calculation.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.



Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
Indicator codes
  • CLIM 059
Frequency of updates
Updates are scheduled once per year
EEA Contact Info


Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage



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