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Reinventing Fire Buildings Research

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Below are all the charts related to the research for the buildings section of Reinventing Fire.

Building sector energy use, 2009

Electricity is 75% of primary energy consumed by U.S. buildings, but 68% of that electricity is lost in conversion and delivery. Oil and natural gas are almost 10 quads of energy, or 25% of total primary energy.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Review 2009. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, August 19.

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Buildings’ energy expenditures vs. other U.S. expenditures as percentage of 2008 GDP

Americans spent more than 3% of the nation's GDP in 2008 on building heating, cooling, and lighting—almost two-thirds of the entire defense budget and more than federal government spending on Medicare.

Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Review 2009. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, August 19.
Bureau of Economic Analysis. “National Economic Accounts.”
Executive Office of the President of the United States. 2011. “Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables Fiscal Year 2011.”

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Where does the money go

Despite large aggregate expenditures on buildings, average U.S. consumers spend only ~4% of their total budget on fuel and electricity bills. Consumers have little incentive to reduce their energy bills, despite a variety of ways to do so profitably.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2010. Consumer Expenditure Survey.

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Category expenses by building type for commercial sector

For commercial buildings, energy and water are 22% of total operating expenses.

Source: BOMA. 2010. Practical Industry Intelligence for Commercial Real Estate. BOMA.

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Distribution of U.S. commercial building stock by size

Most commercial buildings are small—73% of commercial buildings are less than 10,000 square feet. However, 35% of floorspace is in the largest 2.2% of buildings (100,000 square feet or larger).

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2003. “Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey Detailed Tables.”

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Building energy use and square footage, 1950–2006

Both building energy use and total square footage have steadily increased in the United States since 1950. Total building energy use has almost quadrupled, due to increases in building number and size, as well as the adoption of such energy-intensive technologies as color televisions, computers, and air conditioning.

Sources: U.S. Department of Energy. 2010. Buildings Energy Data Book.
U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Review 2009. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, August 19.
Anon. “Annual_TV_Households_50-78.JPG (JPEG Image, 822x456 pixels).”
U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2005. “U.S. Household Electricity Report”. July 14.

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Historical building energy use intensity

Since 1980, the energy use intensity of U.S. commercial buildings has dropped 16%, while in residential it has dropped 35%.

Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Review 2009. August 19, 2010.
U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2008. “Residential Energy Consumption Survey 2005.”

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Changes in residential and commercial building codes, 1975–2011

Residential and commercial codes require increases in building efficiency, and can help drive the transition to a more efficient economy. Recent and significant changes to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 2012 and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 90.1-2010 require decreases of 15% and 25% in energy use from a 1975 baseline, respectively.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Building Energy Codes. 2010. Enhancing Energy Efficiency Nationwide. April.

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Gaps in building codes (residential & commercial)

Inadequate policies fail to realize the potential of energy efficiency. Residential building is easily influenced by codes, but federal and state policies rarely encourage efficiency.

Source: Online Code Environment and Advocacy Network. 2011. Code Status. Washington DC.

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Gaps in building codes (residential & commercial) (slide 2 of 2)

Inadequate policies fail to realize the potential of energy efficiency. Residential building is easily influenced by codes, but federal and state policies rarely encourage efficiency.

Source: Online Code Environment and Advocacy Network. 2011. Code Status. Washington DC.

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Map of utilities with decoupling for electric utilities

To help encourage utilities to pursue efficiency while staying financial healthy, many regulators have changed how utilities get paid for saving energy. More than half of states have some type of cost recovery in place. Perhaps the most effective mechanism has been decoupling, which breaks the link between earnings and total energy sold, and is often combined with shared savings that fully align utility with customer incentives.

Source: Natural Resources Defense Council. 2011. "U.S. Decoupling Maps." Natural Resources Defense Council.

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.

Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11.
National Academy of Sciences. 2010. Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.
Ehrhardt-Martinez, K., K. A. Donnelly, and S. Laitner. 2010. Advanced Metering Initiatives and Residential Feedback Programs: A Meta-Review for Household Electricity-Saving Opportunities. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, June.

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Comparison of U.S. energy projections over time

Efficiency has helped the U.S. stay below 1980 forecasts, but official forecasts indicate continued increases in energy use.

Source: Ehrhardt-Martinez, Karen, and Skip Laitner. 2008. The Size of the U.S. Energy Efficiency Market: Generating a More Complete Picture.. ACEEE.

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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.

Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11.
National Academy of Sciences. 2010. Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.

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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.

Source: RMI analysis based on: National Academy of Sciences. 2009. America’s Energy Future: Technology and Transformation. National Academy of Sciences.

Cost trajectories for CFLS

As the market share of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) has increased, their retail price has decreased more than 75%, thanks to “learning curves.”

Source: EnergyStar. 2009. CFL Market Profile. March. U.S. Department of Energy.

Age of the U.S. housing stock's primary heating systems, 2010

The U.S. housing stock is aging. Almost 40% of pre-1990 homes contain heating systems that are more than twenty years old, making them ripe for deep retrofits. These retrofits could take advantage of right timing by improving the building envelope while replacing the furnace with a smaller, more efficient one.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11. link

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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.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11. link

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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.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11.

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Average residential and commercial physical energy use intensity, 2010-2050

The efficiency gains identified in Reinventing Fire would reduce physical energy use intensity by 60% for residential buildings and 42% for commercial buildings.

Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May.
National Academy of Sciences. 2010. Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.

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Benchmarking a new U.S. office building

Providing your design team with targets and guides can be useful. This table provides a set of benchmarks for specific components in an office building based on best practices garnered from RMI’s experience.

Source: RMI analysis

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Average household electricity savings (4-12%) by feedback type

There are small, back-of-mind behavioral shifts that can save large amounts of energy, because consumption varies dramatically between comparable buildings, depending on how their occupants behave. Based on the findings of 36 residential pilot programs, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has reported that 12% savings are possible for programs with real-time information and feedback.

Source: Ehrhardt-Martinez, K., K. A. Donnelly, and S. Laitner. 2010. Advanced Metering Initiatives and Residential Feedback Programs: A Meta-Review for Household Electricity-Saving Opportunities. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, June.

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Ranges for integrative design energy efficiency potential in buildings sector

Our analysis revealed that leveraging the best practices in integrative design in new construction and retrofits for both commercial and residential buildings can generate savings that range from 42% to 87% below business-as-usual energy demand.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11.

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Energy use savings for integrative design cases (new residential)

The savings achieved through integrative design vary by case, but all are significant. The performance and baseline for 13 new construction residential case studies are included here and can be compared to the average physical energy use intensity for new residential buildings in the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2010.

Source: RMI analysis

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Energy use savings for integrative design cases (existing commercial)

The savings achieved through integrative design vary by case, but all are significant. The performance and baseline for 11 commercial retrofit case studies are included here and can be compared to the average physical energy use intensity for new residential buildings in the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2010.

Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11.
RMI analysis

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Energy use savings for integrative design cases (existing residential)

The savings achieved through integrative design vary by case, but all are significant. The performance and baseline for six residential retrofit case studies are included here and can be compared to the average physical energy use intensity for new residential buildings in the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2010.

Source: RMI analysis based on: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11.

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Energy use savings for integrative design cases (new commercial)

The savings achieved through integrative design vary by case, but all are significant. The performance and baseline for 11 new commercial construction case studies are included here and can be compared to the average physical energy use intensity for new residential buildings in the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2010.

Source: RMI analysis based on: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11.

Integrative design cases: performance and costs

The costs of saving energy via integrative design vary widely. This scatterplot compares the physical energy use intensity of integrative design cases to the cost of conserved energy for these projects. In some cases, integrative design yields greater savings than standard design with no (or sometimes negative) incremental cost. In other cases, the building may have a significant cost premium.

Source: RMI analysis

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Value of U.S. buildings' energy efficiency, 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.

Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11.
National Academy of Sciences. 2010. Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.
Ehrhardt-Martinez, K., K. A. Donnelly, and S. Laitner. 2010. Advanced Metering Initiatives and Residential Feedback Programs: A Meta-Review for Household Electricity-Saving Opportunities. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, June.

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Looking beyond lower energy costs

Beyond the immediately apparent benefits of energy savings and cost reductions, highly efficient buildings can infer a range of additional benefits. Health and productivity benefits in particular can often account for significant savings that are even greater than the entire energy budget.

Source: Lovins, Amory. 2005. Energy End-Use Efficiency. Transitions to Sustainable Energy Systems. Amsterdam: InterAcademy Council.

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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.

Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11.
National Academy of Sciences. 2010. Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.
Ehrhardt-Martinez, K., K. A. Donnelly, and S. Laitner. 2010. Advanced Metering Initiatives and Residential Feedback Programs: A Meta-Review for Household Electricity-Saving Opportunities. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, June.
RMI analysis

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Potential savings in U.S. buildings sector by study

Beyond Reinventing Fire, there are many other studies assessing the U.S. efficiency potential. Despite differences in their assumptions, all studies conclude that the efficiency opportunity is significant and we must pursue it aggressively.

Sources: Gellings, C. W, G. Wikler, and D. Ghosh. 2006. “Assessment of US electric end-use energy efficiency potential.” The Electricity Journal 19 (9): 55–69.
Granade, Hannah Choi, Jon Creyts, Anton Derkach, and Phillip; Nyquist Farese. 2009. Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy. McKinsey & Company.
U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11.
National Academy of Sciences. 2010. Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.
Ehrhardt-Martinez, K., K. A. Donnelly, and S. Laitner. 2010. Advanced Metering Initiatives and Residential Feedback Programs: A Meta-Review for Household Electricity-Saving Opportunities. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, June.

Total per-capita electricity use, 1960-2009

Since 1960, California has outpaced the rest of the nation in adopting energy efficiency. Policies, investments, and business leadership have kept per capita electricity consumption in California steady since 1980, while it almost doubled nationwide.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2009. State Energy Data System. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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Northwest U.S. electricity consumption and efficiency savings

Building codes, federal standards, and implementation programs by utilities and nonprofits have delivered 20% electricity savings in the Northwest over the past 30 years.

Source: Northwest Power and Conservation Council. 2010. Sixth Northwest Conservation and Electric Power Plan.

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California investor-owned utility customers’ consumption and efficiency

States like California that have prioritized efficiency have achieved significant energy savings. Codes and standards have traditionally been the largest driver for efficiency in Californian residential and commercial buildings.

Source: Kavalec, Chris, and Tom Gorin. 2009. California Energy Demand 2010-2020 Adopted Forecast. Sacramento, CA: California Energy Commission.

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Projected decline in U.S. buildings’ fuel use (with integrative design)

If the U.S. can leverage the best practices from integrative design in new construction and retrofits, the savings will be dramatic. U.S. buildings 2050 use of electricity and natural gas will be 60% less than it is today. The “Other Fuels” still being used in 2050 would not include oil—just firewood and occasional wastes, and a bit of bottled gas in rural areas that don’t have pipeline gas.

Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11.
National Academy of Sciences. 2010. Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.
Ehrhardt-Martinez, K., K. A. Donnelly, and S. Laitner. 2010. Advanced Metering Initiatives and Residential Feedback Programs: A Meta-Review for Household Electricity-Saving Opportunities. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, June.

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