A new report issued by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) highlights innovative strategies to reduce carbon emissions in existing U.S. housing stock. Challenges and Opportunities for Home Decarbonization highlights three priorities:
- Develop solutions for all households: Decarbonization solutions must be tailored for diverse households, ensuring flexibility and inclusivity.
- Make home decarbonization affordable: Reducing the technology and soft costs associated with home decarbonization retrofits allows for greater access to eco-friendly home improvements.
- Supporting the clean energy economy: Accelerating home decarbonization aligns with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s mission to transition to a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy by 2050 and fosters clean energy job growth.
The report also identifies three challenges and opportunities for home decarbonization:
- Technical: Specific aspects of technology design, performance, specification, or interoperability—such as developing efficient products, upgrading electrical services, and standardizing solutions—can simplify residential decarbonization.
- Cost: Residential decarbonization costs—including hard and soft costs across project first costs, home operational costs, and capital costs—can be reduced to increase project affordability.
- Valuation: Improving the understanding, quantification, and communication of residential decarbonization project benefits—by highlighting increased home values, communicating policy changes, and promoting home electrification, amongst others—can increase the market value for this work.
While the costs and barriers to decarbonizing U.S. homes are significant, the benefits include lower energy bills, improved indoor air quality, job creation, and reduced pollution. Importantly, the report underscores the cost of inaction—such as rising energy bills and the impact of climate disasters—and emphasizes that by taking action, the U.S. can improve existing homes, lower costs, and combat climate change.