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Beyond the Code: Energy, Carbon, and Cost Savings using Conventional Technologies



Joshua D. Kneifel


As states in the U.S. continue to adopt new energy codes, it is important to understand what the benefits are for each state and its building owners. This paper estimates life-cycle energy savings, carbon emission reduction, and cost-effectiveness of conventional energy efficiency measures in new commercial buildings using an integrated design approach. Results are based on a total of 8,208 energy simulations for 12 prototypical buildings in 228 cities, with 3 building designs evaluated for each building-location combination. Simulated energy consumption, state average fuel mix emissions rates, and building cost databases are used to determine the life-cycle costs and carbon emissions resulting from building designs exceeding compliance with the commonly used \emph{ASHRAE 90.1-2004}. Detailed results are represented by easy to understand mappings that allow for regional and state comparisons. The results show that the use of conventional energy efficiency technologies in an integrated design framework can decrease energy use in new commercial buildings by 15~\% to 20~\% on average and up to over 35~\% for some building types and locations. These energy reductions can often be accomplished at negative life-cycle costs. These improvements not only save money and energy, but reduce a building's carbon footprint from energy use by 9~\% to 33~\%. However, generalizing these results on energy use, life-cycle costs, and carbon emissions reductions misses some important exceptions in the results that show how important location-specific characteristics are in the analysis. Also, states do not appear to base energy code adoption decisions on either potential energy savings or life-cycle cost savings.
Energy and Buildings


carbon footprint, energy efficiency, integrated design, life-cycle assessment, life-cycle costing


Kneifel, J. (2011), Beyond the Code: Energy, Carbon, and Cost Savings using Conventional Technologies, Energy and Buildings (Accessed February 26, 2024)
Created March 1, 2011, Updated February 19, 2017