Residential and Commercial Building Energy

The insight2050 scenarios vary in their building energy use profiles due to their different mixes of housing types and commercial building types. Scenarios that contain more Compact and Urban development accommodate a higher proportion of growth in more energy-efficient building types such as apartments, attached single-family homes, and smaller single family homes, as well as more compact commercial building types. By contrast, a large proportion of Standard place type development leads to a higher proportion of larger single family homes, which are typically less energy-efficient.

Community Insight

“insight2050 is an important tool for informing future growth and development decisions in Central Ohio, and demonstrates how those decisions impact building energy use and costs. Decision-makers are presented with a range of options that can help residents and businesses manage rising energy demand and costs, while also contributing to the economic growth and success of the region.”—James Schimmer, Director at Franklin County Economic Development and Planning

Energy Consumption, Cost, and Emissions

Variations in land use patterns lead to substantial differences in the amount of energy used. These differences depend in part on policies regulating how efficient buildings become. Assuming the same efficiency standards for all scenarios, there would be marked differences in energy use due to land use-related and building program variations.

The combined energy and cost savings in residential and commercial energy through 2050 are significant: compared to Past Trends, Focused Growth saves enough energy to power more than 25,000 homes for a year. With the Maximum Infill scenario, that savings rises to the equivalent of 32,000 homes. Energy costs for households and businesses add up as well: to 2050, total residential and commercial energy costs (including existing and new growth) in Planned Future would be $800 million less than Past Trends. In Focused Growth, the costs would be $2.3 billion less; in the Maximum Infill scenario, the costs would be $2.8 billion less.

Conserving energy also reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. More compact land uses reduce building emissions in proportion to energy use – 1%, 3%, and 4% each year, for the Planned Future, Focused Growth, and Maximum Infill scenarios respectively, as compared to Past Trends. The annual reduction in the Focused Growth scenario equals the equivalent of the yearly emissions of over 200,000 cars on Central Ohio roads. When combined with the effects of more stringent clean energy policies, which would reduce the amount of GHG emissions for every kilowatt-hour of electricity used, building energy emissions could be reduced even further.

Cumulative Residential and Commercial Building Energy Use to 2050 (British Thermal Units, Btu)

Cumulative Residential & Commercial Energy Costs to 2050 (2014 dollars)

Annual Residential & Commercial Energy Costs in 2050 (2014 dollars)

Annual Residential and Commercial Building Energy GHG Emissions in 2050 (MMT CO2e)

Comparing Energy Sources

The insight2050 scenarios tally greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from passenger vehicle transportation as well as residential and commercial buildings. These two sectors generally combine for 35-50% of total GHG emissions in a metropolitan area. In Central Ohio, where the electricity mix includes a relatively high proportion (~70%) of coal, building electricity use takes on a much higher proportion of overall emissions, at nearly 50% of the total. The insight2050 scenarios illustrate the role that land use pattern differences can play in reducing building and transportation energy use and related GHG emissions. Additional policies to reduce the carbon intensity of the power generation portfolio (i.e. more renewable or lower carbon electricity generation, cleaner power plant technology) can also play a role in reducing emissions.