Demand-side solutions in the U.S. building sector could achieve deep emissions reductions and avoid over $100 billion in power sector costs
Buildings are energy-intensive and a primary source of US end-use sector carbon emissions. Although building emissions today are 25% below their 2005 peak, far deeper reductions are needed to reach the US 2050 net-zero emissions goal. However, plausible decarbonization pathways that consider both buildings and their interactions with the power grid remain poorly understood. Here, we couple detailed modeling of building energy use and the grid to quantify building decarbonization potential and associated grid impacts. We find up to a 91% reduction in building CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by 2050 using a portfolio of building efficiency, demand flexibility, and electrification measures alongside rapid grid decarbonization. Building efficiency and flexibility could generate up to $107 billion in annual power system cost savings by 2050, offsetting over a third of the incremental cost of full grid decarbonization. Our results underscore multiple benefits of demand-side solutions for deep decarbonization of US buildings.