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Title: The effect of climate change, population distribution, and climate mitigation on building energy use in the U.S. and China

A changing climate will affect the energy system in a number of ways, one of which is through changes in demands for heating and cooling in buildings. Understanding the potential effect of climate on heating and cooling demands must take into account not only the manner in which the building sector might evolve over time - including, for example, movements from rural to urban environments in developing countries - but also important uncertainty about the nature of climate change itself and the growth and movements of populations over time. In this study, we explored the uncertainty in climate change impacts on heating and cooling by constructing estimates of heating and cooling degree days for both a reference (no-policy) scenario and a climate mitigation scenario built from 0.5 degree latitude by 0.5 degree longitude resolution output from three different Global Climate Models (GCMs) and three gridded scenarios of population distribution. The implications that changing climate and population distribution might have for building energy consumption in the U.S. and China were then explored by using the heating and cooling degree days results as inputs to a detailed, building energy model, nested in the long-term global integrated assessment framework, Global Change Assessment Modelmore » (GCAM). Across the climate models and population distribution scenarios, the results indicate that unabated climate change would cause total final energy consumption to decrease modestly in both U.S. and China buildings by the end of the century, as decreased heating consumption is more than balanced by increased cooling using primarily electricity. However, the results also indicate that when indirect emissions from the power sector are also taken into account, climate change may have negligible effect on building sector CO2 emissions in the two countries. The variation in results due to variation of population distribution is noticeably smaller than variation due to the use of different climate models.« less
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Climatic Change, 119(3-4):979-992
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States