Improving the Building Sector
Buildings in the U.S. consume a great deal of energy, yet much of that energy is wasted through inefficency – windows or building ducts that leak heated or cooled air, lights and electric equipment that lose energy as heat, computers that stay on when they are not in use. Improved efficiency can save money, reduce emissions and contribute to a better quality of life.
Buildings are Energy Hogs:
- Buildings account for approximately 72 percent of U.S. electricity use.
- According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), roughly 41 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2011 was used in buildings.
- The combined annual energy costs for U.S. commercial buildings ($107.9 billion) and industrial facilities ($94.4 billion) is $202.3 billion.
- The energy an average employee uses during a typical day at work causes more than twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as driving to and from work would.
U.S. Buildings are Less Efficient than Other Countries’ Buildings
- The U.S. lags behind China, Australia, and the European Union when it comes to overall building efficiency.
Building Inefficiency Contributes to Climate Disruption
- 45 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are generated by commercial buildings (17 percent) and industrial facilities (28 percent).
- U.S. buildings currently contribute 9 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
- If commercial and industrial buildings improved their energy efficiency by 10 percent, the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions saved would be equivalent to taking roughly 30 million vehicles off the road.
Action on Buildings’ Energy Efficiency Saves Money:
- The United States would save $20 billion if the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings improved by 10 percent.
- A 2009 report from the consulting firm McKinsey found that the United States could save $1.2 trillion through 2020, by investing $520 billion in sweeping, holistic efficiency measures (not including program costs) like sealing building ducts and replacing inefficient household appliances.
- According to a Johnson Controls 2012 report, 86 percent of U.S. and Canadian executives reported that energy management was very or extremely important to their organizations, up from 67 percent in 2011. Energy cost savings, government or utility incentives or rebates, and enhanced brand or public image led as drivers for energy efficiency action.
- According to a 2010 report by McGraw-Hill Construction, on average, building “green” showed a reduction in operating costs of 13.6 percent for new buildings and 8.5 percent for retrofits, an increase in building values of 10.9 percent for new buildings and 6.8 percent for retrofits; and an increase in return on investment of 9.9 percent for new buildings and 19.2 percent for retrofits.
- There is solid evidence that improving building energy efficiency results in improved health due to better air quality and more comfortable temperatures.