Impacts of Climate Change, Population Growth, and Power Sector Decarbonization on Urban Building Energy Use

Chenghao Wang, Jiyun Song, Dachuan Shi, Janet Reyna, Henry Horsey, Sarah Feron, Yuyu Zhou, Zutao Ouyang, Ying Li, Robert Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus Citations


Climate, technologies, and socio-economic changes will influence future building energy use in cities. However, current low-resolution regional and state-level analyses are insufficient to reliably assist city-level decision-making. Here we estimate mid-century hourly building energy consumption in 277 U.S. urban areas using a bottom-up approach. The projected future climate change results in heterogeneous changes in energy use intensity (EUI) among urban areas, particularly under higher warming scenarios, with on average 10.1–37.7% increases in the frequency of peak building electricity EUI but over 110% increases in some cities. For each 1 °C of warming, the mean city-scale space-conditioning EUI experiences an average increase/decrease of ~14%/ ~ 10% for space cooling/heating. Heterogeneous city-scale building source energy use changes are primarily driven by population and power sector changes, on average ranging from –9% to 40% with consistent south–north gradients under different scenarios. Across the scenarios considered here, the changes in city-scale building source energy use, when averaged over all urban areas, are as follows: –2.5% to –2.0% due to climate change, 7.3% to 52.2% due to population growth, and –17.1% to –8.9% due to power sector decarbonization. Our findings underscore the necessity of considering intercity heterogeneity when developing sustainable and resilient urban energy systems.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 6434
Number of pages16
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Springer Nature Limited.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-84436


  • buildings
  • decarbonization
  • future weather
  • urban


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