Addressing Building Related Energy Burden, Air Pollution, and Carbon Emissions of a Low-Income Community in Southern California: Article No. 100169

Robert Flores, Sammy Houssainy, Weixi Wang, Khanh Nguyen Cu, Xiao Nie, Noah Woolfolk, Ben Polly, Ramin Faramarzi, Jim Maclay, Jaeho Lee, Jack Brouwer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examines the impact of low-income assistance and electrification programs on a disadvantaged community in Southern California. An urban building energy model is paired with an AC power flow and electric distribution system degradation model to evaluate how the cost of energy, carbon emissions, and pollutant emissions change after applying building weatherization, energy efficiency, and electrification measures to the community. Results show that traditional weatherization and energy efficiency measures (upgrading lighting and appliances, improving insulation to current building code standards) are the most cost-effective, reducing the cost of energy and carbon emissions by 10-20 % for the current community. Heat pump water heaters offer a 40 % average reduction in carbon emissions and almost 50 % decrease in criteria pollutant emissions, but at a cost increase of 17-22 %. Appliance electrification also reduces carbon emissions 5-10 % but increases cost by 7 % to 25 %. For reducing carbon, government programs that support building electrification are most cost-effective when they combine switching from natural gas to electricity with high efficiency system. Electrifying hot water and appliances effectively reduces emissions but must be paired with improved low-income assistance programs to prevent increased energy burden for low-income families. The urban building energy model and electrical distribution simulations used in this study can be replicated in other low-income communities.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages21
JournalAdvances in Applied Energy
Volume14
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-85782

Keywords

  • AC power flow
  • building decarbonization
  • disadvantaged community
  • electric distribution infrastructure
  • electrification
  • low-income housing
  • urban building energy modeling

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