Download the U.S. Buildings Decarbonization Blueprint.

The U.S. Department of Energy led the development of a Blueprint for decarbonizing U.S. buildings by 2050 to lay out a national strategy for aggressively reducing building greenhouse gas emissions while delivering equity, affordability, and resilience benefits to communities. The vision includes action the federal government can take to meet specific targets for increasing building energy efficiency, accelerating onsite emissions reductions, transforming the grid edge, and minimizing embodied life cycle emissions.

The national strategy reflects the central role that buildings play in achieving economy-wide climate goals while delivering cost savings, healthier environments, and high-quality jobs for the American people. Federal agency coordination and support for state and local actions is essential to accelerate the transition to low-carbon buildings.

Image of people doing things like pointing, looking at a phone, and looking through binoculars, with a skyline in the background and jagged arrows showing upward movement. Image label says American prosperity.
Image of a town street with brick buildings and a few cars parked or driving. Image label says community preservation and resilience.
Image of one person holding a pink piggy bank while another person drops in a coin. Image label says energy and economic security.
Image of a fist shaded in primary colors, with human profiles in the background in shades of yellow, orange, red, and brown. Image label says energy justice.
Image of an adult and child sitting on a sofa, with the child using an inhaler. Image label says healthy environments.
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The buildings decarbonization Blueprint will promote American prosperity by supporting thriving and resilient communities, high-quality jobs, energy and economic security, energy justice, and healthy environments.

The Blueprint aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. buildings 65% by 2035 and 90% by 2050 vs. 2005 while centering equity and benefits to communities.

The Blueprint sets three cross-cutting goals of equity, affordability, and resilience to ensure that the low-carbon buildings transition benefits disadvantaged communities, reduces energy costs, and increases the ability of communities to withstand stresses. Alongside those three cross-cutting goals, the Blueprint identifies four strategic objectives with specific performance targets that enable overall emission reductions.

Cross-cutting goals

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Equity

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Affordability

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Resilience

Strategic objectives

Click on the icons below for an overview.

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Achieving deep decarbonization of buildings is critical for reaching net-zero emissions economy-wide.

Buildings are responsible for more than a third of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Decarbonizing the buildings sector has additional broad benefits, including saving people money, improving the quality of homes and businesses, reducing the size of new power grid infrastructure, and enabling fast, secure, and interactive distributed energy resources like on-site solar panels, battery storage, and EV charging.

The buildings sector contributed an estimated 35% of total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2021, including estimated portions of the industrial sector for embodied building life cycle emissions and the buildings-sector share of emissions from natural gas production and distribution. Source: U.S. Department of Energy analysis of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Inventory of U.S. GHG Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2021.

Meeting the goals set in the Blueprint will have far-reaching impacts.

The Blueprint’s vision would reduce building greenhouse gas emissions to within reach of net zero while also reducing building energy use by one third, unlocking billions of dollars in energy and health cost savings, and requiring investments that can support new clean energy jobs.

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1 Based on Langevin et al. "aggressive" decarbonization benchmark, which maps most closely to the targeted pathway.
2 Based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency CO-Benefits Risk Assessment of avoided health costs of 75% reduction in residential and commercial fossil combustion in contiguous United States (range $10 billion–$23 billion).

Coordination of a wide range of supportive federal actions can accelerate building decarbonization.

Federal actions to accelerate building decarbonization include: early-stage research and development that raises the ceiling on maximum technology performance and improves affordability; deployment and market stimulation activities that remove barriers to technology adoption and spur further market penetration of commercialized and emerging technologies; and efficiency standards and building codes that raise the floor of minimum performance and lock in proven cost-effective low-carbon technologies for mainstream adoption. Strategic coordination across these different types of actions increases their potential to accelerate deployment of high performance, low-carbon building solutions over time. 

Four categories of federal actions can improve decarbonization solutions: maximize technology performance and affordability, develop markets and enable deployment, provide direct funding and financing, and lock in cost-effective performance gains.

Four categories of federal actions, strategically coordinated, can improve the performance of available decarbonization solutions over time.

  • Foundational science
  • Early-stage R&D funding
  • Solutions for hard-to-decarbonize segments
  • Pilot demonstrations

  • Enabling tools, partnerships, and market-facing resources
  • Contractor and consumer outreach
  • Workforce development
  • Technical assistance and validation

  • Point-of-sale rebates
  • Tax credits and deductions
  • Facilitate financing

  • Appliance efficiency standards
  • Support building energy code development and adoption
  • Support other state and local regulatory actions
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Federal actions support and complement building decarbonization efforts at the state, local, and tribal levels.

Federal agencies can support state, local, and tribal action by providing technical assistance, data sharing and decision tools, capacity building resources, peer information sharing, and recognition programs.

 

  • State, local, and tribal actions: deploy Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act programs; enable innovative financing mechanisms; deploy financing (e.g., green banks); oversee utility ratepayer-funded programs.
  • Federal support: tailored technical assistance, cost-benefit analysis, and other data/tools for program design and implementation; fund low-interest financing (e.g., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund).

  • State, local, and tribal actions: building codes (e.g., electric-ready, zero-carbon life cycle); building performance standards; state-level or regional appliance standards; procurement standards.
  • Federal support: participate in model code development process; provide cost-effectiveness analysis, standardized metrics, and other technical assistance for adoption and enforcement of codes and standards; lead by example on codes and procurement standards for buildings built or financed with federal money.

  • State, local, and tribal actions: utility regulation and reforms (e.g., planning, rates, data access, infrastructure subsidies, business models); energy efficiency resource and clean heat standards; zoning reforms. 
  • Federal support: technical assistance to support utility decision-making, planning, and assessment of compliance pathways; research on land use policy impacts. 

Want to learn more? Download the full report.