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Improving the energy efficiency of buildings: The impact of environmental policy on technological innovation


  • Noailly, Joëlle


This paper investigates the impact of alternative environmental policy instruments on technological innovations aiming to improve energy efficiency in buildings. The empirical analysis focuses on three main types of policy instruments, namely regulatory energy standards in buildings codes, energy taxes as captured by energy prices and specific governmental energy R&D expenditures. Technological innovation is measured using patent counts for specific technologies related to energy efficiency in buildings (e.g. insulation, high-efficiency boilers, energy-saving lightings). The estimates for seven European countries over the 1989–2004 period imply that a strengthening of 10% of the minimum insulation standards for walls would increase the likelihood to file additional patents by about 3%. In contrast, energy prices have no significant effect on the likelihood to patent. Governmental energy R&D support has a small positive significant effect on patenting activities.

Suggested Citation

  • Noailly, Joëlle, 2012. "Improving the energy efficiency of buildings: The impact of environmental policy on technological innovation," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 795-806.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eneeco:v:34:y:2012:i:3:p:795-806 DOI: 10.1016/j.eneco.2011.07.015

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Giovanni Marin & Alessandro Palma, 2015. "Technology invention and diffusion in residential energy consumption. A stochastic frontier approach," IEFE Working Papers 81, IEFE, Center for Research on Energy and Environmental Economics and Policy, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
    2. Balvís, Eduardo & Sampedro, Óscar & Zaragoza, Sonia & Paredes, Angel & Michinel, Humberto, 2016. "A simple model for automatic analysis and diagnosis of environmental thermal comfort in energy efficient buildings," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 177(C), pages 60-70.
    3. Valeria Costantini & Francesco Crespi & Alessandro Palma, 2014. "Policy Inducement Effects in Energy Efficiency Technologies. An Empirical Analysis on the Residential Sector," SEEDS Working Papers 1914, SEEDS, Sustainability Environmental Economics and Dynamics Studies, revised Aug 2014.
    4. Karmellos, M. & Kiprakis, A. & Mavrotas, G., 2015. "A multi-objective approach for optimal prioritization of energy efficiency measures in buildings: Model, software and case studies," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 131-150.
    5. Noailly, Joëlle & Batrakova, Svetlana, 2010. "Stimulating energy-efficient innovations in the Dutch building sector: Empirical evidence from patent counts and policy lessons," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(12), pages 7803-7817, December.
    6. Valeria Costantini & Francesco Crespi & Elena Paglialunga & Giorgia Sforna, 2018. "System Transition and Structural Change Processes in the Energy Efficiency of Residential Sector: Evidence from EU Countries," SPRU Working Paper Series 2018-03, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    7. repec:eee:rensus:v:82:y:2018:i:p3:p:2300-2318 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Yang, Fuxia & Yang, Mian, 2015. "Analysis on China's eco-innovations: Regulation context, intertemporal change and regional differences," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 247(3), pages 1003-1012.
    9. Michelsen, Claus & El-Shagi, Makram & Rosenschon, Sebastian, 2016. "The diffusion of "green'' buildings in the housing market: empirics on the long run effects of energy efficiency regulation," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145534, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    10. Wang, Bing & Nistor, Ioan & Murty, Tad & Wei, Yi-Ming, 2014. "Efficiency assessment of hydroelectric power plants in Canada: A multi criteria decision making approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 112-121.
    11. Lanzi, Elisa & Verdolini, Elena & Haščič, Ivan, 2011. "Efficiency-improving fossil fuel technologies for electricity generation: Data selection and trends," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(11), pages 7000-7014.
    12. Costantini, Valeria & Crespi, Francesco & Palma, Alessandro, 2017. "Characterizing the policy mix and its impact on eco-innovation: A patent analysis of energy-efficient technologies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 799-819.
    13. Misato Sato & Gregor Singer & Damien Dussaux & Stefania Lovo, 2015. "International and sectoral variation in energy prices 1995-2011: how does it relate to emissions policy stringency?," GRI Working Papers 187, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    14. François Cohen & Matthieu Glachant & Magnus Söderberg, 2017. "The impact of energy prices on product innovation: Evidence from the UK refrigerator market," CIES Research Paper series 50-2017, Centre for International Environmental Studies, The Graduate Institute.
    15. repec:eee:energy:v:128:y:2017:i:c:p:575-585 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Salari, Mahmoud & Javid, Roxana J., 2017. "Modeling household energy expenditure in the United States," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 822-832.
    17. Salari, Mahmoud & Javid, Roxana J., 2016. "Residential energy demand in the United States: Analysis using static and dynamic approaches," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 637-649.
    18. Anil Markandya & Xavier Labandeira & Ana Ramos, 2013. "Policy Instruments to Foster Energy Efficiency," Working Papers 01-2014, Economics for Energy.
    19. repec:eee:eneeco:v:66:y:2017:i:c:p:85-98 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Mare Sarr & Joëlle Noailly, 2017. "Innovation, Diffusion, Growth and the Environment: Taking Stock and Charting New Directions," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 66(3), pages 393-407, March.
    21. Bergek, Anna & Berggren, Christian, 2014. "The impact of environmental policy instruments on innovation: A review of energy and automotive industry studies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 112-123.
    22. F. Stam & Neil Thompson & Andrea Herrmann & Marko Hekkert, 2012. "The Environmental Regulation Paradox for Clean Tech Ventures," Scales Research Reports H201217, EIM Business and Policy Research.
    23. Valeria Costantini & Francesco Crespi & Alessandro Palma, 2015. "Characterizing the policy mix and its impact on eco-innovation in energy-efficient technologies," SEEDS Working Papers 1115, SEEDS, Sustainability Environmental Economics and Dynamics Studies, revised Jun 2015.

    More about this item


    Innovation; Technological change; Patents; Energy-efficiency; Buildings; Environmental policy;

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation


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