The AEO2011 Reference case shows minimal change in commercial energy use per capita between 2009 and 2035 (Figure 62). While growth in commercial floorspace (1.2 percent per year) is faster than growth in population (0.9 percent per year), energy use per capita remains relatively steady due to efficiency improvements in equipment and building shells. Efficiency standards and the addition of more efficient technologies account for a large share of the improvement in the efficiency of end-use services, notably in space cooling, refrigeration, and lighting.
Issues in Focus
In 2009, the residential and commercial buildings sectors used 19.6 quadrillion Btu of delivered energy, or 21 percent of total U.S. energy consumption. The residential sector accounted for 57 percent of that energy use and the commercial sector 43 percent. In the AEO2011 Reference case, delivered energy for buildings increases by 16 percent, to 22.8 quadrillion Btu in 2035, which is moderate relative to the rate of increase in the number of buildings and their occupants. Accordingly, energy use in the buildings sector on a per-capita basis declines in the projection. The decline of buildings energy use per capita in past years is attributable in part to improvements in the efficiencies of appliances and building shells, and efficiency improvements continue to play a key role in projections of buildings energy consumption.