Demand-side solutions in the US building sector could achieve deep emissions reductions and avoid over $100 billion in power sector costs

Published: 18 August 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/sc4jxrn9nh.1


Buildings are energy-intensive and a primary source of US end-use sector carbon emissions. Although building emissions today are 25% below their 2005 peak, far deeper reductions are needed to reach the US 2050 net-zero emissions goal. However, plausible decarbonization pathways that consider both buildings and their interactions with the power grid remain poorly understood. Here, we couple detailed modeling of building energy use and the grid to quantify building decarbonization potential and associated grid impacts. We find up to a 91% reduction in building CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by 2050 using a portfolio of building efficiency, demand flexibility, and electrification measures alongside rapid grid decarbonization. Building efficiency and flexibility could generate up to $107 billion in annual power system cost savings by 2050, offsetting over a third of the incremental cost of full grid decarbonization. Our results underscore multiple benefits of demand-side solutions for deep decarbonization of US buildings. Demand-side measure deployment is assessed with the Scout model ( relative to the EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2021 Reference Case forecast (, which includes projections for both new and existing building stock and largely carries forward historical trends in building technology adoption and energy consumption. Annual electricity emissions factors and hourly power system costs are projected by the GridSIM model ( under different grid decarbonization scenarios. These projections are multiplied by Scout projections of annual building electricity demand and hourly system load impacts through 2050 to assess electricity CO2 emissions and power system cost reductions across the full measure portfolio. Measure installed cost data from Scout are used to estimate the total incremental costs of deploying the measure portfolio. Full-portfolio reductions in CO2 emissions from on-site combustion of fossil fuels are assessed by coupling Scout projections of annual building fossil fuel demand through 2050 with EIA fossil fuel emissions intensities. Files in this record: - "ONE-EARTH-D-22-00509 Model Runs.xlsx" (detailed instructions on how to reproduce Scout model results) - "ONE-EARTH-D-22-00509 Figure Data.xlsx" (data for all key paper figures) - "ONE-EARTH-D-22-00509 Table Data.xlsx" (all paper Table data) - "" (all Scout measures to run analysis as instructed in "ONE-EARTH-D-22-00509 Model Runs.xlsx") - "" (all raw Scout results, GridSIM hourly cost and emissions data) - "" (AEO/GridSIM Reference Case totals, electricity emissions intensity ratios)


Steps to reproduce

Refer to the file "ONE-EARTH-D-22-00509 Model Runs.xlsx" for detailed instructions concerning how to reproduce results data. To be consistent with the paper, model runs should be executed on the version of the Scout codebase found here:


E O Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Brattle Group


Energy Policy, Energy Efficiency, Analytical Modeling, Energy Demand, Energy Transition, Greenhouse Gas Mitigation, Grid Analysis, Building Heating, Building Energy Analysis, Energy Flexibility, Low-Carbon Economy


U.S. Department of Energy