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Chapter 1 provides an overview of energy use in the U.S. buildings sector, which includes single- and multi-family residences and commercial buildings. Commercial buildings include offices, stores, restaurants, warehouses, other buildings used for commercial purposes, and government buildings. Section 1.1 presents data on primary energy consumption, as well as energy consumption by end use. Section 1.2 focuses on energy and fuel expenditures in U.S. buildings. Section 1.3 provides estimates of construction spending, R&D, and construction industry employment. Section 1.4 covers emissions from energy use in buildings, construction waste, and other environmental impacts. Section 1.5 discusses key measures used throughout the Data Book, such as a quad, primary versus delivered energy, and carbon emissions. Section 1.6 provides estimates of embodied energy for various commercial building assemblies. The main points from this chapter are summarized below:
- The 97.8 quads of energy the U.S. consumed in 2010 represented 19% of global consumption—the second largest share of world energy consumption by any country; only China consumed more. (1.1.13) The U.S. buildings sector alone accounted for 7% of global primary energy consumption in 2010. (1.1.3)
- In the United States, the buildings sector accounted for about 41% of primary energy consumption in 2010, 44% more than the transportation sector and 36% more than the industrial sector. (1.1.3)
- Total building primary energy consumption in 2009 was about 48% higher than consumption in 1980. (1.1.8) Space heating, space cooling, and lighting were the dominant end uses in 2010, accounting for close to half of all energy consumed in the buildings sector. (1.1.4)
- New building construction also took a big hit in 2010 and was valued at 55% less than at its peak in 2006. (1.3.2) The number of people employed in architecture and construction has decreased 27% from 2006 levels. (1.3.7)
In 2010, China took the United States’ place as the largest consumer of energy in the world. Between 2008 and 2010, energy consumption in the U.S. decreased by 2% to 97.8 quads, whereas China’s energy consumption increased by 22.9% to 104.6 quads. (1.1.13) Meanwhile, China’s carbon dioxide emissions continued to rise at a notable rate, 21% between 2008 and 2010. The U.S.’s carbon dioxide emissions decreased 3% over the same period. U.S. buildings have come to represent an increasing portion of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions—40% in 2009, compared to 33% in 1980; yet, the fast growth rate of global emissions means that emissions from U.S. buildings have become a declining percentage of the global total—8.5% in 1980, compared to 7.1% in 2009. (1.4.1).
The decline in U.S. energy consumption can be attributed to the economic recession, which has had a particularly hard impact on the building sector. Total energy expenditures in the building sector decreased 8% to 417.8 billion from 2008 to 2009, the largest percent drop in the last 30 years. (1.2.3) The value of new building construction dropped again for the fourth year in a row and was valued at 377.4 billion, 55% less than at its peak in 2006, when new building construction was valued at 843.6 billion. (1.3.2) As expected, the number of people employed in architecture and construction has also decreased since 2006. More than 7.9 million people were employed in the two industries then, compared to 5.7 million in 2010, a 27% drop. (1.3.7).
Forty-one percent of U.S. primary energy was consumed by the buildings sector, compared to 30% by the industrial sector and 29% by the transportation sector. Of the 39 quads consumed in the buildings sector, homes accounted for 54% and commercial buildings accounted for 46% (1.1.3). Of the energy sources used by the U.S. buildings sector, 75% came from fossil fuels, 16% from nuclear generation, and 9% from renewables. (1.1.8)