Scenarios of U.S. Carbon Reductions: Potential Impacts of Energy-Efficient and Low-Carbon Technologies by 2010 and Beyond

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Energy is used in buildings to provide a variety of services such as lighting, space heating and cooling, refrigeration, and electricity for electronics and other equipment. In the U.S., building energy consumption accounts for nearly one-third of total primary energy consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions. The cost of delivering all energy services in buildings (such as cold food, lighted offices, and warm homes) will be over $220 billion in 1997.

Our analysis shows that substantial reductions in future greenhouse gas emissions can be realized through the use of more energy-efficient technologies that save society money. In addition, these technologies often supply other benefits beyond energy, carbon, and dollar savings, including the following:

  1. improved indoor environment, comfort, health, and safety,
  2. reduced noise,
  3. improved process control, and
  4. increased amenity or convenience (Mills and Rosenfeld 1994).

These indirect benefits, while difficult to quantify in economic terms, can be even more important than the energy cost savings, particularly when they improve the comfort of homeowners or the productivity of workers.

This chapter describes our detailed assessment of the achievable cost-effective potential for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in 2010. We calculate carbon, energy, and dollar savings associated with adoption of more energy-efficient technologies. In addition, this chapter qualitatively describes the role of research and development (R&D) in providing a stream of advanced building technologies and practices after 2010 that will enable continued reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

All costs in this chapter are reported in 1995 U.S. dollars (1995$). Carbon dioxide emissions are reported in terms of their carbon equivalent. To convert carbon dioxide units at full molecular weight into carbon units, divide by 44/12 or 3.67. For further information on emissions data, see EIA (1995).

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