U.S. and India Building Energy Use

The United States (U.S.) and India are among the highest energy users in the world, with building energy use constituting much of that consumption. The development and widespread dissemination of highly efficient buildings technologies in both countries can significantly mitigate that energy use.  

India is now the world’s seventh largest energy consumer, sixth largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and second in terms of annual GHG emissions growth(Bureau of Energy Efficiency, 2011). India’s electricity demand is projected to reach 1,900 terawatt-hours (TWh) by 2021–2022 (MOP, 2007), and its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal combustion are projected to reach 1.3 billion metric tons in 2030—7% of the world total (International Energy Agency, 2007).

India’s building energy use accounts for 33% of the nation’s energy use, and this is growing by 8% annually (Climate Works, 2010). The largest floor-space growth is in the commercial (office, hospitality, retail, hospitals) and residential sectors (IPC, 2011). Given the explosive growth in floor-space, and increased intensity of energy use and service level requirements in the commercial sector, India must address efficiency in this sector.

The need is also evident in the U.S. The buildings sector contributes to 40% of the nation’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions—the highest of all sectors, and this sector’s energy use is increasing faster than any other’s (Coffey, 2009; Majumdar, 2009). To meet DOE “business as usual,” the forecast is that the U.S. will need another 200 GW of electricity generation capacity by 2030, at a cost of $0.5 trillion to $1 trillion (`22 trillion to 45 trillion) (U.S. DOE, 2007).

Fortunately, by drawing on the research and technological capabilities of the U.S. and India, substantial energy savings can be achieved. Through cooperative research and public-private sector collaborations that focus on building systems integration, CBERD will help to achieve substantial energy savings in both countries’ buildings sectors. Aligning with the GOI goals of energy-efficient buildings by reducing the need for lighting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, two of LBNL’s projects in India already have demonstrated that systems-level integration through innovative technologies can reduce energy consumption by at least 60%, compared to the ASHRAE 90.1-2007 baseline. Figure 2(a) shows the technical energy saving potential of 209 TW/year (40% savings) in India assuming a 60% reduction in energy use for new construction, and a conservative 10% reduction through retrofits from the average benchmarked value of 273 kWh/sq m/year (27.3 kWh/sqft/year). The average is derived from a wide range of benchmark data for offices, hotels, hospitals and shopping malls (ECO-III, 2010).

CBERD targets the 2030 technical potential for commercial building energy savings.  2(a)-India: 209 TWh/year or 40%  savings; 2(b)-US: 1167 TWh/year or 36%  savings.


The DOE’s vision (U.S. DOE Multi-year Plan, 2011–2015) isto retrofit 3 billion square feet of U.S. commercial space by 2015.Figure 2(b) shows the technical energy saving potential of 1167 TW/year (36% savings) in the U.S. assuming a retrofit target of 20% reduction in energy consumption by 2020, 30% by 2030, and a 60% reduction in new construction from the average benchmarked value of 315 kWh/sq m/year (31.5 kWh/sqft/year). This average value is derived from the benchmarked numbers for offices, hotels, hospitals and shopping malls (CBECS, 2003).