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The Building Sector is the Largest Contributor
to U.S. CO2 Emissions

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The Building Sector consumes more energy than any other sector. Most of this energy is produced from burning fossil fuels, making this sector the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet – and the single leading contributor to anthropogenic (human forcing) climate change. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), nearly half (44.6%) of all CO2 emissions in 2012 came from the Building Sector. By comparison, transportation accounted for 34.3% of CO2 emissions and industry, just 21.1%.

74% of U.S. Electricity CO2 Emissions Come From Coal.
75% of This Electricity is Consumed by the Building Sector.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal is responsible for 74.3% of the CO2 emissions produced by electricity generation, natural gas 24.4% and petroleum 0.8%. Of the electricity we consume, three-quarters (74.9%) goes just to operate the buildings we live and work in every day. By comparison, industry uses 24.9% and transportation, less than 1% [1].

Oil and Natural Gas Cannot Fuel Irreversible Climate Change. Coal Can.

We are now reaching the peak in conventional global oil and natural gas production. The global static lifetime of conventional oil is approximately 40 years, natural gas 60 years. As oil and gas peak, prices will increase dramatically and alternatives will become more economically attractive. After they peak, oil and gas consumption will decline, being consumed more sparingly, with their depletion rates stretching out over many years.

Coal (and unconventional fossil fuels - oil shale, tar sands, methane hydrates, etc.) is the only fossil fuel that is plentiful enough to contribute the amount of CO2 necessary to trigger irreversible climate change. We are currently at 397 ppm, and are increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 at approximately 2 ppm annually. Scientists warn that irreversible climate change will occur if 450 ppm (or any level much above 350 ppm) is sustained for very long and that the “safe” long-term level of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs) is 350 ppm (more).

See the Solution.




Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (2009). To create a U.S. Building Sector, the residential buildings (operations) sector, commercial buildings (operations) sector, and industrial buildings (operations and materials embodied energy estimates) were combined.