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Gilbraith N., Azevedo I.L., Jaramillo P.

Environmental Science and Technology

pp 14121



The federal government has the goal of decreasing commercial building energy consumption and pollutant emissions by incentivizing the adoption of commercial building energy codes. Quantitative estimates of code benefits at the state level that can inform the size and allocation of these incentives are not available. We estimate the state-level climate, environmental, and health benefits (i.e., social benefits) and reductions in energy bills (private benefits) of a more stringent code (ASHRAE 90.1–2010) relative to a baseline code (ASHRAE 90.1–2007). We find that reductions in site energy use intensity range from 93 MJ/m2 of new construction per year (California) to 270 MJ/m2 of new construction per year (North Dakota). Total annual benefits from more stringent codes total $506 million for all states, where $372 million are from reductions in energy bills, and $134 million are from social benefits. These total benefits range from $0.6 million in Wyoming to $49 million in Texas. Private benefits range from $0.38 per square meter in Washington State to $1.06 per square meter in New Hampshire. Social benefits range from $0.2 per square meter annually in California to $2.5 per square meter in Ohio. Reductions in human/environmental damages and future climate damages account for nearly equal shares of social benefits.