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Riding down the experience curve for energy-efficient building envelopes: the Swiss case for 1970–2020

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Energy efficiency potentials of building envelopes are significant and still largely untapped. Increasing concerns of policy-makers about non-sustainable energy use and climate change spur a growing research interest in this area. This paper fills part of the existing knowledge gap by focusing on experience curve aspects of energy efficiency measures that concern state-of-the-art insulation methods, materials, and windows. The analysis addresses some of the difficulties and peculiarities of applying the experience curve concept to energy efficiency technologies. We also report on some of the more general technological trends and dynamics of market diffusion of innovative energy conservation technologies for the building envelope. The results derived from historical data analysis point to significant techno-economic progress made over the last 30 years, and demonstrate the basic applicability, merits and limitations of the experience curve concept for energy policy design and impact analyses concerning building envelopes. We conclude from our analysis that, apart from the energy conservation potentials offered, building standards and labels can be important drivers for techno-economic progress, and that experience curves can provide some useful guidance for targeted and effective policy measures.

Keywords: experience curve, building envelope, energy efficiency, policy design, energy paradox, technological diffusion, Switzerland

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