Accelerating Residential Building Decarbonization: Market Guidance to Scale Zero-Carbon-Aligned Buildings

Brett Webster, Lucas Toffoli, Martha Campbell, Leslie Badger, Alison Donovan, Damon Lane, Kevin McGrath, Aven Satre-Meloy, Eric Wilson, Janet Reyna, Cheryn Metzger, Tyler Pilet

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The US buildings sector faces a confluence of challenges, including a clear necessity to decarbonize the built environment to mitigate climate change, a need for greater resilience in the face of more frequent extreme weather events, a dearth of affordable housing, and flat or declining construction productivity that hinders the sector's ability to adapt. Better data and guidance on new and existing residential buildings can outline paths forward for the market. These can help clarify stakeholder priorities and highlight applications for new (or newly relevant) technologies and approaches that have the potential to break traditional barriers, bridge technical gaps, reduce costs, create added value, and enable decarbonization of the national residential building stock. Decarbonizing the national building stock before 2050 will require massive increases in zero-carbon retrofits and new construction in this decade. By 2030, whole-home retrofit activity must increase severalfold, and virtually all new construction will need to be zero carbon. It is difficult to imagine achieving this transformation without substantial changes in how buildings are constructed and retrofitted. By employing innovative building technologies and modernized construction techniques, while leveraging novel business models and aggregated demand, the residential construction industry has the opportunity to deliver energy-efficient, zero-carbon-aligned, and ultimately cost-effective new and retrofitted homes at scale, with streamlined delivery and consistent quality. This report provides product manufacturers, fabricators, contractors and installers, design professionals, owners, and real estate developers with technical performance and cost guidance for scalable zero-carbon-aligned new construction pathways and retrofit packages across the nation's climate regions. The report builds on market research, stakeholder engagement, and modeling and analysis by the Advanced Building Construction Collaborative and its national laboratory partners. Market stakeholders can use this information to focus their strategic and project-level decision-making to drive zero-carbon-aligned buildings within the limited time frame for decarbonization. Though the report does not provide policy recommendations, public-sector stakeholders may also see it as a useful input into their decision-making. The information in this report can serve as a springboard for further development and refinement of specific physical solutions - such as construction products and assemblies - that can achieve necessary performance levels to meet climate goals. It can also inform business models that can deploy these physical solutions at scale and enabling financial and technical tools. In particular, it can be relevant to stakeholders in the emergent advanced building construction (ABC) market.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages108
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5500-84575


  • Advanced Building Construction
  • building retrofits
  • industrialized construction


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