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Publication Date
11 August 2015

120 Years of U.S. Residential Housing Stock and Floor Space



Residential buildings are a key driver of energy consumption and also impact transportation and land-use. Energy consumption in the residential sector accounts for one-fifth of total U.S. energy consumption and energy-related CO2 emissions, with floor space a major driver of building energy demands. In this work a consistent, vintage-disaggregated, annual long-term series of U.S. housing stock and residential floor space for 1891–2010 is presented. An attempt was made to minimize the effects of the incompleteness and inconsistencies present in the national housing survey data. Over the 1891–2010 period, floor space increased almost tenfold, from approximately 24,700 to 235,150 million square feet, corresponding to a doubling of floor space per capita from approximately 400 to 800 square feet. While population increased five times over the period, a 50% decrease in household size contributed towards a tenfold increase in the number of housing units and floor space, while average floor space per unit remains surprisingly constant, as a result of housing retirement dynamics. In the last 30 years, however, these trends appear to be changing, as household size shows signs of leveling off, or even increasing again, while average floor space per unit has been increasing. GDP and total floor space show a remarkably constant growth trend over the period and total residential sector primary energy consumption and floor space show a similar growth trend over the last 60 years, decoupling only within the last decade.

“120 Years Of U.s. Residential Housing Stock And Floor Space”. 2015. Plos One 10: e0134135. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0134135.
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