Sustainable Building Technologies Drive Energy Savings in the United States

Greater adoption of existing efficiency technologies, enabled by chemistry, could lower energy use in buildings by 41% by 2050

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) recently touted projections in a new report by the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) showing that combining building efficiency improvements, made possible by innovations in chemistry, with lower-carbon fuels could lead to a 41% reduction in energy use and a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Of all the energy used in the United States, nearly one-third is consumed by the building sector. Improving efficiency is critical, and during the next few decades the amount of energy used by the building sector will increase dramatically (more than 62% by 2050), as will the amount of CO2 emissions (more than 87% by 2050), according to the ICCA report.

“The ICCA projections reinforce what we have known for long time – that the chemical industry is an indispensable provider of solutions that improve the energy efficiency of buildings,” said Cal Dooley, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council. “Nearly every energy-efficient technology is dependent on innovations made possible by chemistry. Our products make the nation’s energy supplies go further while lowering energy costs for businesses and families.”

The ICCA Building Technology Roadmap, which will be officially released this week at the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar, examined the chemical industry’s contributions to energy efficiency and greenhouse gas savings in residential and commercial construction. The report focused on the potential savings from five chemically derived building technologies that are commercially available today: insulation, pipe and pipe insulation, air sealing, reflective roof coatings and pigments, and windows.

According to the ICCA report, energy-saving products installed in homes in the United States prevented nearly 283 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2010 – equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of 50 million passenger vehicles. Studies show that if this trend continues, more than 7 billion tons of emissions can be avoided by 2050 in the U.S. alone – equivalent to the CO2 emissions of more than 1.2 billion passenger vehicles.
Averaging at least 75% of the heat loss in households, single-family homes provide most of the potential for energy savings within the residential sector. In 2010, the cumulative energy savings from chemically derived building products in U.S. residential buildings was 46 times greater than the energy required to produce the products.

The American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care, common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues, and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $760 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is the largest exporting sector in the U.S., accounting for 12% of U.S. exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.