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WIREs Energy Environ.
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Mandating better buildings: a global review of building codes and prospects for improvement in the United States

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This paper provides a global overview of the design, implementation, and evolution of building energy codes. Reflecting alternative policy goals, building energy codes differ significantly across the United States, the European Union, and China. This review uncovers numerous innovative practices including greenhouse gas emissions caps per square meter of building space, energy performance certificates with retrofit recommendations, and inclusion of renewable energy to achieve ‘nearly zero‐energy buildings’. These innovations motivated an assessment of an aggressive commercial building code applied to all US states, requiring both new construction and buildings with major modifications to comply with the latest version of the ASHRAE 90.1 Standards. Using the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS), we estimate that by 2035, such building codes in the United States could reduce energy for space heating, cooling, water heating, and lighting in commercial buildings by 16%, 15%, 20%, and 5%, respectively. Impacts on different fuels and building types, energy rates and bills as well as pollution emission reductions are also examined. WIREs Energy Environ 2016, 5:188–215. doi: 10.1002/wene.168 This article is categorized under: Energy Efficiency > Economics and Policy Energy Systems Economics > Economics and Policy Energy Policy and Planning > Climate and Environment
State‐by‐state commercial building code status (as of September 1, 2014). (Source: Online Code Environment and Advocacy Network, http://bcap‐ocean.org/code‐status‐commercial)
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Energy savings by building type (numbers represent percent primary energy savings).
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CO2 emission reductions from the commercial and power sectors: building code scenario versus reference case.
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Commercial sector natural gas and electricity rates and consumption: building code scenario versus reference case. Note: Four scenarios modeled by NEMS are presented in the figure; Reference: EIA 2012 Reference Scenario; Building Shell: Higher Building Shell Efficiency Scenario; Equipment Standards: More Stringent Equipment Standards Scenario; Building Code: Integrated scenario combining the Shell and HVAC scenarios.
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Energy Policy and Planning > Climate and Environment
Energy Systems Economics > Economics and Policy
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