Assessing the Potential to Reduce U.S. Building CO2 Emissions 80% by 2050

Chioke Harris, Janet Reyna, Jared Langevin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus Citations


Buildings are responsible for 36% of CO2 emissions in the United States and will thus be integral to climate change mitigation; yet, no studies have comprehensively assessed the potential long-term CO2 emissions reductions from the U.S. buildings sector against national goals in a way that can be regularly updated in the future. We use Scout, a reproducible and granular model of U.S. building energy use, to investigate the potential for the U.S. buildings sector to reduce CO2 emissions 80% by 2050, consistent with the U.S. Mid-Century Strategy. We find that a combination of aggressive efficiency measures, electrification, and high renewable energy penetration can reduce CO2 emissions by 72%-78% relative to 2005 levels, just short of the target. Results are sufficiently disaggregated by technology and end use to inform targeted building energy policy approaches and establish a foundation for continual reassessment of technology development pathways that drive significant long-term emissions reductions.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2403-2424
Number of pages22
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-73881


  • building energy efficiency
  • building stock and energy models
  • decarbonization pathways
  • electrification
  • emissions
  • energy policy analysis
  • national climate goals


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