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Title: 120 Years of U.S. Residential Housing Stock and Floor Space

Energy consumption in the residential sector accounts for one-fifth of total U.S. energy consumption and energy-related CO2 emissions. Floor space is a major driver of building energy demand. This paper develops a historical time series of total residential floor space for 1891-2010 and examines the role of socio-economic drivers GDP, population and household size on floor space. Using primarily data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we develop new construction and vintage-disaggregated housing stock for three building types, and address various data inconsistency issues. An examination of the long-term relationship of GDP and total residential floor space shows a remarkably constant trend over the period. While population increases five times over the period, a 50% decrease in household size contributes towards a tenfold increase in the number of housing units and floor space, while average floor space per unit remains surprisingly constant, as a result of housing retirement dynamics. In the last 30 years, however, these trends appear to be changing, as household size shows signs of leveling off, or even increasing again, while average floor space per unit has been increasing. Total residential sector primary energy consumption and floor space show a similar growth trend over the last 60 years.
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: PLoS One, 10(8):Article No. e0134135
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States