Building sector feedbacks lead to increased energy demands

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 11:50
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Typically in human-earth system modeling studies, feedbacks between the earth and human systems are analyzed by passing information between independent models, leading to data errors and poor reproducibility. In this study we explore the two-way feedbacks between the human and earth systems in the building sector of GCAM, an integrated assessment model and, its fully-integrated climate component, Hector. While there is a general agreement in the literature that increasing temperatures will increase cooling energy demands and decrease heating energy demands, there has been no fully-coupled analysis of this dynamic that would, for example, account for the feedbacks on hydrofluorocarbons from increased cooling demands. Using a statistical relationship between global mean temperature change and heating and cooling degree days, we find that the feedbacks on hydrofluorocarbons lead to an increase in global mean temperature of between 0.16 to 0.27 °C in 2100. Demands for electricity increase by about 10% in Africa, while demands decrease in Canada by about 3.0% when taking into account these feedbacks. While the feedbacks between building energy demand and global mean temperature are modest by themselves, this study prompts future research on coupled human-earth system feedbacks, in particular in regards to land, water, and other energy infrastructure.

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