Building efficiency offers large potential reductions in U.S. primary energy use and
operating costs; however, efficient buildings also benefit the economy and society in ways that
are challenging to quantify in dollar terms at the national scale. Improved public health is an
important non-energy benefit that is largely absent from assessments of building efficiency
program impacts at scale. Accordingly, such assessments underestimate the value of building
efficiency as a means to improve health and well-being.
We incorporate recently published EPA estimates of energy efficiency’s public health
benefits (dollars per avoided kilowatt-hour of electricity generation) in an analysis using the
Scout impact assessment software (scout.energy.gov), examining how this addition affects the
estimated cost savings of U.S. building efficiency measure portfolios compared to a base-case
where only measure operating cost savings are considered. Effects are explored both at the
national and regional levels. Overall, we find that the inclusion of public health benefits
substantially increases the cost savings of building efficiency portfolios, with stronger effects in
regions with higher air pollution emissions rates for electricity generation and higher population
densities. We conclude by discussing the importance of factoring public health benefits into
future analyses of the building efficiency resource.