DOE’s Building Technologies Office — The Future of Air Conditioning for Buildings

ENERGY.GOV12_ Another great publication from the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and Building Technology Office. The Building Technologies Digest provides a weekly roundup of the latest news, funding opportunities, reports, events, and webinars from DOE’s Building Technologies Office. The Future of Air Conditioning for Buildings Report provides invaluable insight into the next generation of Air Conditioning and Air Conditioning Equipment, a $100 billion industry that consumes over 4% of the world’s building site-energy.

Executive Summary

The Building Technologies Office (BTO), within the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, works with researchers and industry to develop and deploy technologies that can substantially reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in residential and commercial buildings. Air conditioning (A/C) systems in buildings contribute to GHG emissions both directly through refrigerant emissions, as well as indirectly through fossil fuel combustion for power generation. BTO promotes pre-competitive research and development (R&D) on next-generation HVAC technologies that support the phase down of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) production and consumption, as well as cost-effective energy efficiency improvements.

Over the past several decades, product costs and lifecycle cooling costs have declined substantially in many global markets due to improved, higher-volume manufacturing and higher energy efficiency driven by R&D investments and efficiency policies including minimum efficiency standards and labeling programs.1 This report characterizes the current landscape and trends in the global A/C market, including discussion of both direct and indirect climate impacts, and potential global warming impacts from growing global A/C usage. The report also documents solutions that can help achieve international goals for energy efficiency and GHG emissions reductions. The solutions include pathways related to low-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants, energy efficiency innovations, long-term R&D initiatives, and regulatory actions.

DOE provides, with this report, a fact-based vision for the future of A/C use around the world. DOE intends for this vision to reflect a broad and balanced aggregation of perspectives. DOE brings together this content in an effort to support dialogue within the international community and help keep key facts and objectives at the forefront among the many important discussions.

Expected Growth in A/C Demand.

Today, A/C equipment represents close to a $100 billion, 100 million-unit per year global market, and accounts for 4.5 exajoules (4.26 Quadrillion Btus) of site energy consumption per year, comprising just over 4% of global building site-energy consumption. While adoption of A/C in developed countries increased rapidly in the 20th century, the 21st century will see greater adoption in developing countries, especially those in hot and (possibly) humid climates with large and growing populations, such as India, China, Brazil, and Middle Eastern nations. The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that A/C energy consumption by 2050 will increase 4.5 times over 2010 levels for non-Organization of Economic Coordination and Development OECD) countries versus 1.3 times for OECD countries.4 Rising income and greater access to A/C equipment in many of these nations opens the door to building cooling for billions of people, which will provide significant benefits in increased human health and comfort.

Click here, to access complete report

Prepared for: U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Building Technologies Office

Prepared by: William Goetzler, Matt Guernsey, Jim Young, and Jay Fuhrman
Navigant Consulting, Inc.
77 South Bedford Street, Suite 400
Burlington, MA 01803

Omar Abdelaziz, PhD
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, TN 37831


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