GENEVA, — The Energy Efficiency in Buildings Project, which envisions a world where buildings consume zero net energy -- generating as much energy as they consume -- took the next step forward in achieving its goals.

An initiative of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the EEB project announced the formation of the EEB Assurance Group, which will be to oversee and validate the research and conclusions of the EEB project.

WBCSD announced that the chairman of the group will be Klaus Töpfer, former United Nations Undersecretary General and former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The other members of the group are also renowned environmental experts who have had experience working in business, government and the world of academia.

The three-year project will develop a roadmap for transforming market structures and practices throughout the building industry, from finance and design to operation, in order to achieve this vision. The EEB includes both residential and commercial buildings and focuses on Brazil, China, Europe, Japan, India, and the U.S.

"Climate change is one of the most important issues facing us today and business, government and NGOs must join forces to achieve solutions for this very serious problem," said Klaus Töpfer. "I have accepted the chairmanship of the EEB Assurance Group because I support the project's vision to achieve energy efficient and sustainable buildings worldwide and strongly believe that I can help this group of companies make this happen," he continued.

The Assurance Group ensures the project's legitimacy and objectivity and will serve as its strategic advisor, reviewing its initiatives and reports. Furthermore, the group is charged with validating that the EEB project maintains a high level of integrity, independence and accountability.

"Buildings already use about a third of the world's energy and if projected trends continue, by 2050, buildings will consume almost as much energy as industry and transport combined," said Project Director Christian Kornevall, underlining the need for urgent action. "Klaus Töpfer is widely recognized as having spearheaded environmental policy as Minister of the Environment in Germany and introduced ground-breaking environmental regulations. It is an honor to have him chair the Assurance Group, which is composed of many world famous minds in the environmental and sustainability field," he continued.

In addition to Mr. Töpfer, the Assurance Group is composed of:
  • Hon. Eileen Claussen (USA), President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and Strategies for the Global Environment. Ms. Claussen is the former Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and served for three years as a Special Assistant to the President and Director for Global Environmental Affairs at the National Security Council.

  • Vivian Ellen Loftness (USA), Professor and Head of the School of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University, and Senior Researcher at the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics. Ms. Loftness has served on five National Academy of Science panels, and her work has influenced both national policy and building projects, including the Adaptable Workplace Lab at the US General Services Administration and the Laboratory for Cognition at Electricité de France.

  • Thomas Johansson (Sweden), Professor of Energy Systems Analysis and Director of the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIEE) at the University of Lund, Sweden and Senior Advisor on Energy and Climate Change to the United Nations Development Programme (UNEP).

  • Shin-ichi Tanabe (Japan), Professor in the Department of Architecture at the Waseda University. His current project within the Department of Architecture includes a study on thermal comfort requirements and on indoor air quality of buildings. Dr. Tanabe has been a visiting scholar across the world, including the Technical University of Denmark's International Center for Indoor Environment and Energy and the University of California, Berkley’s Center for Environmental Design Research.

  • Jiang Yi (China), Vice Dean of the School of Architecture at Tsinghua University and Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. He is the first researcher in China to apply computer simulation technology into building and HVAC systems and has been playing a fundamental role in many Chinese national energy saving research projects for buildings.
The EEB project is co-chaired by Lafarge and United Technologies Corporation. It also includes leading companies in the building, equipment and energy industries, such as Cemex, DuPont, EDF Group, Gaz de France, Kansai Electric Power Company, Philips, Sonae Sierra and Tokyo Electric Power Company.