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Wide adoption of energy-efficiency technologies

Standard forecasts project that the buildings sector’s energy use will keep rising . But those forecasts aren’t fated to come true. We can save 38% and could probably save 69% of building sector’s projected use of primary energy in 2050, very cost-effectively. Investing an extra $0.5 trillion (in 2010 present value) over the next 40 years could save 38% of energy costs or $1.9 trillion—a $1.4-trillion-net opportunity requiring no new invention.

Yet installation of straightforward and available technologies has so consistently lagged growth in floorspace and equipment that never in our history has U.S. building energy use trended downwards. Just leveling energy use from 2010 to 2050 would be unprecedented. While the nation’s track record for building energy efficiency has been mixed, though, some states and regions have achieved sustained success. To capture that opportunity nationwide simply means investing in energy efficiency as consistently and robustly as some of the top-performing regions already are.

U.S. buildings' energy-saving potential, 2010–2050

With significant investments in efficient technologies and smart controls—probably requiring a transformation of the real-estate industry—the U.S. can achieve building energy savings of 38%. With the widespread adoption of integrative design, those savings could potentially rise to 69%. Both figures assume a 70% increase in floorspace by 2050.

 

Commercial building energy efficiency supply curve, by end use, 2050

To determine how much commercial building energy can be saved at what cost, we created efficiency supply curves.
 
 

 

Residential building energy efficiency supply curve, by end use, 2050

To determine how much residential building energy can be saved at what cost we created efficiency supply curves.
 
 

 

Energy use savings from different categories of efficiency

Integrative design can significantly increase the efficiency opportunity in the U.S. buildings sector. For all four subsectors, integrative design can increase the size of the efficiency opportunity by more than half.
 

 

Changes in residential building stock, 2010-2050

From 2010 to 2050, the residential U.S. building stock will change with new construction and demolitions to the existing stock. As the stock changes, efficient equipment and insulation will be installed in 95% of residential buildings . For Reinventing Fire, we forecasted what the uptake for efficiency could be in the commercial sector.

 

Changes in commercial building stock, 2010-2050

From 2010 to 2050, the commercial U.S. building stock will change with new construction and demolitions to the existing stock. As the stock changes, efficient equipment and insulation will be installed in 95% of commercial buildings. For Reinventing Fire, we forecasted what the uptake for efficiency could be in the commercial sector.