Building energy efficiency has become a top priority due to the recent energy price spikes and increasing concern regarding climate change. New buildings are the easiest and least costly in which to increase energy efficiency, making new construction an excellent target for efficiency improvements. This paper uses life-cycle cost analysis and environmental life-cycle assessment with extensive building cost databases, whole building energy simulations, and state-level emissions and utility rates to determine the relative cost-effectiveness, carbon emissions, and carbon tax implications of energy efficiency improvements in new commercial buildings. The time horizon, building type and size, and local climate all have an impact on the financial and environmental benefits from both energy efficiency improvements and hypothetical carbon taxes. Many energy efficiency measures are cost effective without climate change policy, and should be implemented regardless of carbon restrictions. The cost-effective energy efficiency improvements not only save money, but also significantly reduce a building s carbon footprint through energy use reductions. A carbon tax results in a greater adjusted internal rate of return on these investments, and makes many otherwise cost-ineffective energy efficiency projects economically feasible.
Proceedings Title: INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL FOR RESEARCH AND INNOVATION IN BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION: W108 - Climate Change and the Built Environment: 8th Workshop and Meeting
Conference Dates: March 26-27, 2009
Conference Location: Milan, -1
Pub Type: Conferences
Energy efficiency, buildings, carbon taxes