Have you ever wondered how much energy buildings use? Did you ever think that it would account for 70% of the electricity load consumption in the U.S.? Well, according to the U.S. Green Building Council this is exactly the case. In fact, it is said that commercial and residential buildings account for more than 70% of electricity use and that the energy impact of buildings could potentially be greater if other energy use attributable to buildings are taken into account.

Now you may be thinking, “why is it important to look at how much energy buildings use?” Well, for starters, the building sector plays an important role in the increase of carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. In fact, U.S. buildings contributed to 9% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and the building sector globally contributed to one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions.

If we go further into detail on this topic we will see that residential and commercial buildings contributed to a total of 2236 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. This is more than the transportation or industrial sectors. However, this number will most likely increase due to the projection that the building sector’s energy use is supposed to increase from 40 quadrillion Btus energy to 50 quadrillion Btus at a cost of $430 billion by the year 2025.

40 quadrillion Btus ⬆︎

These numbers are very large and are projected to continue increasing if nothing is done to decrease them. It may sound like a hard task, especially since buildings are said to have a lifespan of 50-100 years where they will consistently be using energy and releasing carbon dioxide emissions, but it is still possible. In fact, if half of new commercial buildings were built to use 50% less energy or just began to use 50% less energy, then they could potentially be saving over 6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year for however long the buildings continued to operate. To help us understand how drastic of a number that is, imagine removing more than 1 million cars every year from a city. This amount would be the equivalent to the 6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide that could be saved per year; think about how much that would effect the environment!

Sources used for data:

Comparison of Building Energy Use Data between the United States and China: https://cercbee.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/attachments/BRI%20-%20A1%20-%20Comparison%20of%20building%20energy%20use%20data%20between%20US%20and%20China.pdf

Buildings and Climate Change: https://www.eesi.org/files/climate.pdf