Embodied Carbon Emissions of the Residential Building Stock in the United States and the Effectiveness of Mitigation Strategies

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Date
2022-09-20
Authors
Hu, Ming
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Citation
Hu, M. Embodied Carbon Emissions of the Residential Building Stock in the United States and the Effectiveness of Mitigation Strategies. Climate 2022, 10, 135.
Abstract
According to the 2021 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction published by the United Nations Environment Programme, global carbon emissions from the building sector in 2019 were nearly 14 gigatons (Gt), representing 38% of total global carbon emissions, including 10% from building construction. In the United States, the largest knowledge gap regarding embodied carbon in buildings exists at the whole-building level. The first step in creating informative policy to reduce embodied carbon emissions is to map the existing building stock emissions and changes over time to understand the primary contributing building types and hot spots (states), and then to compare and analyze mitigation scenarios. To fill this knowledge gap, this study first developed a bottom-up model to assess the embodied carbon of the US residential building stock by using 64 archetypes to represent the building stock. Then, the embodied carbon characteristics of the current building stock were analyzed, revealing that the primary contributor was single-family detached (SD) houses. The results indicated that the exterior wall was a major contributor, and that small multifamily housing was the most embodied carbon-intense building type. Two scenarios, the baseline scenario and progressive scenario, were formed to evaluate the effectiveness of six mitigation strategies. The progressive scenario with all mitigation strategies (M1–M6) applied produced a total reduction of 33.13 Gt CO2eq (42%) in the cumulative residential building stock related to carbon emissions during 2022–2050, and a total reduction of 88.34 Gt CO2eq (80%) during 2022–2100. The results show that with an embodied carbon emissions reduction in the progressive scenario (42% by 2100), the total embodied carbon emissions comply with the carbon budget of a 2 °C pathway, but will exceed the budget for a 1.5 °C pathway.
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