New Way to Reduce Building Energy Use

New Way to Reduce Building Energy Use
New Way to Reduce Building Energy Use

Highly energy efficient buildings can reduce energy costs as well as carbon emissions and air pollution that contribute to climate change and other negative health effects. However, it is not common to measure the environmental and human health benefits of energy efficient building design.

Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston University, and Oregon State University have now created a new approach to estimate the effects of these energy savings on human health and the environment.

The new methodology, developed as part of the four-year “Common Benefits of the Built Environment” (CoBE) project, was presented in an article published in the journal Building and Environment on September 8.

The newly created method can be used to evaluate such benefits at a regional, municipal or individual building scale. Initial work with CoBE focused on calculating the health and climate benefits of energy savings in buildings at the country level.

According to researchers, the choices we make about our buildings have a direct impact on our climate and health. “CoBE is an important development for two reasons: It adds a health lens to what is often just a carbon debate, and it allows us to look into the future so we can best decide what the impact of energy efficiency measures in buildings will be today.”

Building owners, operators and investors can now easily estimate the climate and health benefits of their energy choices by 2050, thanks to a tool publicly available on the CoBE website. The CoBE website offers information on how the tool works, as well as videos, case studies, FAQs, and a blog to assist users.

Building owners or operators enter important details about a particular building or group of buildings into the web application, such as location, size, energy sources and energy consumption. The program determines the building's energy and emissions footprints, as well as its financial consequences on the environment and human health. The application can then be used by users to calculate co-benefits under various energy use scenarios.

The CoBE program makes calculations using various models and data sets. CoBE uses energy and emissions estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Energy Information Administration to project emissions reductions resulting from energy savings. To measure climate impacts in monetary terms, CoBE uses the Social Cost of Carbon, a methodology created by the US government Interagency Working Group that monetizes the long-term impacts of each ton of greenhouse gas emissions. CoBE calculates the associated health costs of premature deaths caused by exposure to fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5), one of the most devastating forms of pollution created by the burning of fossil fuels.

According to Boston University Jonathan Buonocore, “health benefits are often overlooked in decisions about energy strategy, carbon offsets, and other carbon emission reduction measures.” With the help of the CoBE tool, the health benefits of emissions reductions can be evaluated financially.

To demonstrate the usefulness of the CoBE tool, the researchers created a case study that simulated the impact of a fictitious decrease in electricity use in buildings in the United States from 2018 to 2050. They discovered that a building's geographic location is crucial in determining the effects of reductions in energy use on human health and the environment. For example, a region in Wisconsin and Michigan would see an additional health and environmental benefit of $2018 to $0,52 for every dollar saved on electricity in 0,70 as a result of using less energy from fossil fuels. Overall, for every dollar saved on electricity in 2050, additional health and environmental savings ranging from $0,02 to $0,81 will be realized.

“The CoBE tool is user-friendly for decision makers and other stakeholders to evaluate their current performance and measure the health and climate co-benefits of different energy savings scenarios to improve the health and well-being of people and our planet,” said Parichehr Salimifard, professor of architectural engineering at Oregon State University College of Engineering and lead author of the study. "It offers a way," he said.

Source: techxplore

📩 12/09/2023 11:40