A Methodology to Assess Environmental Impacts of Thermal Performance Improvements in Chilean Residential Buildings

Waldo Bustamante, Hector Jorquera, Manuel Brahm, Victor Bunster, Felipe Encinas, Sergio Vera

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


In Chile, about 20% of the energy is consumed by the residential sector. There is consensus in the country that the thermal performance standards for housing are extremely low, explaining the high amount of energy that is currently used for space heating. Nowadays, firewood accounts for close to 50% of this consumption. The high share of this fuel can be explained by its low costs when compared to other alternatives such as kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), electricity and natural gas (NG). A direct consequence of this intensive use of firewood are the high levels of air pollution present in urban areas throughout Chile. In Santiago and other cities of the south, particulate matter (PM) 2.5 concentrations exceed the recommended levels (greater than 20 μg/m3 annual average). These environmental pollutants, together with severe levels indoor air pollution, are currently affecting close to 10 million people in the country while generating high rates of heart and chronic respiratory disease as well as premature deaths of thousands. This paper presents a methodology intended to provide critical information in regards to the environmental impacts of improving the thermal performance of new and existing buildings. In order to illustrate its capabilities, the methodology was implemented in representative three Chilean cities (i.e., Santiago, Concepción and Temuco) focusing on the reduction of CO2 and PM2.5 emissions. Overall, this paper demonstrates that the proposed methodology enables empirical assessment of the potential benefits behind the introduction of different thermal performance measures that may be used to inform environmental policies and energy-efficiency measures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication10TH International Conference on Sustainable Energy and Environmental Protection, Environmental Management and Impact Assessment: Conference Proceedings
EditorsJurij Krope, Abdul Ghani Olabi, Darko Goričanec, Stanislav Božičnik
Place of PublicationMaribor, Slovenia
PublisherUniversity of Maribor Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-961-286-053-0
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event10TH International Conference on Sustainable Energy and Environmental Protection - Bled, Slovenia
Duration: 27 Jun 201730 Jun 2017


Conference10TH International Conference on Sustainable Energy and Environmental Protection
Internet address


  • environmental impact assessment
  • urban pollution
  • housing
  • energy efficiency
  • Chile

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