Paradigm shifts for the Swiss building sector to shape the future energy system

In order to achieve the climate goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2050, there is an urgent need to transform the current energy system. The pace of energy efficiency improvement on the demand side must be accelerated. However, this strategy alone is not sufficient. Today’s energy consumers must be supplied exclusively with CO2 free energy in future. This will lay the foundations for all sectors of the economy and for the consumers to work, act, and live in a climate-friendly manner. Such a transformation of the energy system will take place in parallel with the exploitation of local renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, lakes, and others, energy sources which are mostly small-scale and are distributed in urban and rural areas.


SCCER FEEB&D — Seven years of research in energy supply and demand

The Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research in Buildings and Districts, SCCER FEEB&D, has conducted research over the past 7 years in the field of energy supply and demand for buildings, districts and cities. The energy consumption of the Swiss building stock for space heating, electricity, warm water and building technology amounts to approximately 37% of the total final energy consumption in Switzerland and accounts for around 27% of Swiss domestic CO2,eq emissions. Our research reveals that the net-zero target for the building sector can be achieved by 2050. The transformation can be implemented with economically attractive solutions, assuming CO2 costs of 200-400 CHF per ton of CO2. The economic attractiveness depends on the type of building and the development of the overall renewable energy supply. The research also shows that restructuring the energy system increases the security of energy supply and local value creation.


Six paradigm shifts to support the transformation of the energy system

In essence, the SCCER FEEB&D research identified six paradigm shifts that relate to the building stock and support the transformation of the current net-zero CO2 emisson energy system into the future version:

  1. Urban renewables – the new fuel for energy systems
  2. Sharing – the new energy interaction approach
  3. Flexibility – the new supply security
  4. Capacity – the new energy performance indicator
  5. Algorithms & Data – the new assets of energy systems
  6. Cooling – the new heating challenge

The six paradigm shifts can be further categorized in spatial terms under (1) urban scale, i.e. campuses, districts, villages, or cities, and under (2) building scale, i.e. user behaviour, components, elements and rooms.

Recommendations for transforming the Swiss building sector

The white paper of the SCCER FEEB&D discusses the effects and impacts of each of the paradigm shifts and its interrelations on future energy systems, as well as the research findings that contributed to them. The paper concludes with recommendations for transforming the building sector based on these paradigm shifts for the legislative body, public administration and professionals.


The full version of the white paper can be downloaded here: