Materials for Sustainable & Green Buildings: Opportunities and Innovations

K. Sawyer
U.S. Department of Energy,
United States

Keywords: green building, building materials


Buildings accounted for 40% (38.5 Quadrillion Units of BTUs, or Quads) of primary energy consumption in the United States in 2014, greated than that attributable to either industry (33%) or transportation (27%). Building energy consumption represents a cost of approximately $416 billion in 2012 dollars and 38% of the energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the US [2014 Annual Energy Outlook,]. Clearly, energy efficiency measures in building provide a tremendous opportunity to reduce energy consumption and costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Quadrennial Technology Review shows that there is a significant opportunity (~20% of primary EUI) to cost-effectively improve energy efficiency in buildings by installing commercially available technologies, such as ENERGY STAR* equipment. However, in order to fully realize the energy efficiency potential of the US building sector, technology innovations will be critical. The best available technologies available today are generally not cost effective, significantly limiting their deployment in the market. There is a huge opportunity for innovation in materials, construction and business models for window and building envelope technologies as more these technologies can lead to massive space conditioning and lighting energy savings, but they are rarely realized because of the associated installed cost [2015 Department of Energy Quadrennial Technology Review,]. The technical and market innovation challenges for this critical sector will be discussed along with an overview of some of the ongoing projects in the Building Technologies Office at the Department of Energy.