What energy savings would be achieved if all buildings were renovated to the Minergie® standard?

If all buildings were completely renovated to the basic Minergie® standard (or equivalent label), the Swiss building stock would save about half of the final energy it currently uses. This would represent a reduction of 36 TWh per year, or 18% of our total final energy consumption.

Developed in Switzerland over the past 20 years or so, Minergie® is an optional construction standard for new and renovated buildings. It guarantees good comfort, high energy efficiency and the wide use of renewable energy. This basic Minergie® standard is supplemented by more demanding labels: Minergie® P aims for even lower consumption, and Minergie® A for buildings heated exclusively with renewable energy sources. These three standards can also be supplemented by the Eco label, which requires a greatly reduced environmental impact.

One of the pillars of the Minergie® standard is to ensure high quality of the insulation of the building cladding. In winter, every building loses heat through its exterior walls, roof, windows and floor. The heating system must constantly compensate for this loss in order to maintain a stable and comfortable temperature in the building. Energy consumption for heating is therefore highly dependent on the quality of the insulation. For example, a Minergie® building consumes on average 70% less heating energy than a poorly-insulated building built in the 1970s. Yet 50% of our building stock dates from the 1970s or earlier. Almost 30% of our final energy consumption (61 TWh) is now used to cover our heating needs.

In addition to improving the quality of insulation, there is significant potential for improving energy efficiency in heating and domestic hot water systems [→ Q27], as well as in the areas of air-conditioning, ventilation, technical installations and lighting [→ Q42]. Moreover, these energy services can to a very large extent be provided by renewable energy sources.

In addition, of the 36 TWh of potential final energy savings per year, 12 TWh could be saved in the form of electricity (heating, lighting, air-conditioning, hot water production, etc.), which would more than compensate for the annual production shortfall of around 9 TWh in the three nuclear reactors at Mühleberg and Beznau I and II, which will be the first to be taken out of service.

The retrofitting of our building stock is therefore one of the central elements of our energy strategy, since it can make a massive contribution to the objectives of phasing out nuclear power, reducing CO2 emissions and increasing our level of energy independence. In spite of this, the rate of building retrofitting in Switzerland is still very low today [→ Q82]. In addition, a rebound effect has been observed that can wipe out up to 60% of the energy savings achieved [→ Q94]. Accompanying measures to ensure the proper use of buildings will be necessary.


(). Minergie - home. [Online]. Available at: www.minergie.ch/home_fr.html.
Office fédéral de l'énergie (OFEN) (2013)
(). Perspectives énergétiques 2050.
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(). Moins de CO₂ en assainissant les vieux bâtiments.