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Even on a climate-adjusted basis, Russians use about twice as much energy to heat their buildings as Swedes and a third more than Americans. Why? To find out, MIT faculty led by Professor Leslie Norford of the Department of Architecture have worked with senior Russian energy experts over the last six years to better quantify energy use in Russian residential buildings and pinpoint the sources of wasted energy.

This work compared annual heating-energy consumption as predicted from building-construction data and as measured. Data were collected for both a single, carefully studied large multifamily building in Moscow and, with less detail, for the aggregate housing stock in Moscow. In both cases, it was found that buildings are using about 60 percent more energy than should be expected. For the multifamily building, the source of about two-thirds of the wasted energy was overheating in spring and fall, caused by inadequate control of the district-heating system.

The next phase of the work is to collaborate with Russians to draft new building-energy codes that will establish requirements for building design and operation, based on technological potential for conservation and the institutional mechanisms needed to achievesavings. The work is funded by the NSF, the Toda Corp. and the EPA.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 24, 1996.

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