Editors' ChoiceEnergy Efficiency

Better buildings' appetites for energy

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Science  21 Oct 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6310, pp. 298-299
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6310.298-c

Building codes targeting energy efficiency may not lead to obvious reductions in energy consumption, particularly compared with optimistic engineering predictions made before enacting the codes. Levinson studied homes in California where, since 1978, increasingly ambitious building regulations have targeted energy efficiency. But after controlling for factors such as home size, location, and occupant demographics; measuring consumption responses to temperature changes; and comparing with consumption in other states, newer homes built to me et California's stricter standards used no less energy than older ones. Although no direct impact on energy consumption was observed, the codes may have still had benefits, such as allowing residents to stay more comfortably warm or cool for a given amount of energy consumption and corresponding greenhouse gas emissions.

Amer. Econ. Rev. 10.1257/aer.20150102 (2016).

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