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Calculating Buildings' Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Increased concern about climate change has led many building designers throughout the world to focus on reducing energy use in buildings. It is often assumed that energy use is more or predictive of greenhouse gas GHG) emissions However, there are numerous time-dependent variations in building energy use and electric grid operation that result in important differences between the quantity of energy used and the related GHG emissions. These differences are not generally considered or even recognized by most designers or even regulators and others who are now striving to develop a carbon neutral economy. Efforts have begun to recognize the important factors that determine a building’s GHG emissions based on its energy use, but these efforts are still in the preliminary stages. This paper identifies some of the important factors that affect the estimation of GHG emissions based on energy use data from simulations during design or from actual energy meters or purchases. These differences are being considered in a new effort to develop a tool that will more accurately predict building GHG emissions based on design alternatives, thus allowing design professionals to improve the GHG emission performance of their buildings.

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