Assessing the Potential to Reduce U.S. Building CO2 Emissions 80% by 2050

TitleAssessing the Potential to Reduce U.S. Building CO2 Emissions 80% by 2050
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsJared Langevin, Chioke B. Harris, Janet L. Reyna
Date Published08/2019
KeywordsBuilding energy efficiency, decarbonization, electrification, emissions, energy models, energy policy analysis, national climate goals, pathways building stock

Buildings are responsible for 36% of CO2 emissions in the United States and will thus be integral to climate change mitigation; yet, no studies have comprehensively assessed the potential long-term CO2 emissions reductions from the U.S. buildings sector against national goals in a way that can be regularly updated in the future. We use Scout, a reproducible and granular model of U.S. building energy use, to investigate the potential for the U.S. buildings sector to reduce CO2 emissions 80% by 2050, consistent with the U.S. Mid-Century Strategy. We find that a combination of aggressive efficiency measures, electrification, and high renewable energy penetration can reduce CO2 emissions by 72%–78% relative to 2005 levels, just short of the target. Results are sufficiently disaggregated by technology and end use to inform targeted building energy policy approaches and establish a foundation for continual reassessment of technology development pathways that drive significant long-term emissions reductions.