A Map of Roadmaps for Zero and Low Energy and Carbon Buildings Worldwide

Erika Mata, Ajay Korpal, Samantha Cheng, Juan-Pablo Jimenez-Navarro, Faidra Fillippidou, Janet Reyna, Rui Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus Citations


Formulation of targets and establishing which factors in different contexts will achieve these targets are critical to successful decarbonization of the building sector. To contribute to this, we have performed an evidence map of roadmaps for zero and low energy and carbon buildings (ZLECB) worldwide, including a list and classification of documents in an on-line geographical map, a description of gaps, and a narrative review of the knowledge gluts. We have retrieved 1219 scientific documents from Scopus, extracted metadata from 274 documents, and identified 117 roadmaps, policies or plans from 27 countries worldwide. We find that there is a coverage bias towards more developed regions. The identified scientific studies are mostly recommendations to policy makers, different types of case studies, and demonstration projects. The geographical inequalities found in the coverage of the scientific literature are even more extreme in the coverage of the roadmaps. These underexplored world regions represent an area for further investigation and increased research/policy attention. Our review of the more substantial amount of literature and roadmaps for developed regions shows differences in target metrics and enforcement mechanisms but that all regions dedicate some efforts at national and local levels. Roadmaps generally focus more on new and public buildings than existing buildings, despite the fact that the latter are naturally larger in number and total floor area, and perform less energy efficiently. A combination of efficiency, technical upgrades, and renewable generation is generally proposed in the roadmaps, with behavioral measures only reflected in the use of information and communication technologies, and minimal focus being placed on lifecycle perspectives. We conclude that insufficient progress is being made in the implementation of ZLECB. More work is needed to couple the existing climate goals, with realistic, enforceable policies to make the carbon savings a reality for different contexts and stakeholders worldwide.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 113003
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-76518


  • evidence map
  • literature review
  • low energy building
  • roadmap
  • zero carbon building
  • zero energy building


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