Decarbonization Pathways for the Residential Sector in the United States

Peter Berrill, Eric J.H. Wilson, Janet L. Reyna, Anthony D. Fontanini, Edgar G. Hertwich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus Citations


Residential GHG emissions in the United States are driven in part by a housing stock where onsite fossil combustion is common, home sizes are large by international standards, energy efficiency potential is large and electricity generation in many regions is GHG intensive. In this analysis, we assess decarbonization pathways for the US residential sector to 2060, through 108 scenarios describing housing stock evolution, new housing characteristics, renovation levels and clean electricity. The lowest emission pathways involve very rapid decarbonization of electricity supply alongside extensive renovations to existing homes, including improving thermal envelopes and heat pump electrification of heating. Reducing the size and increasing the electrification of new homes provide further emission cuts and combining all strategies enables reductions of 91% between 2020 and 2050. The potential of individual mitigation strategies shows great regional variation. Reaching zero emissions will require simultaneous deployment of multiple strategies and greater reduction of embodied emissions.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)712-718
Number of pages7
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-81384


  • buildings
  • decarbonization
  • electrification
  • embodied emissions
  • energy emissions
  • renovation
  • sufficiency


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