Residential Research Quarterly: June 2020

In this second quarterly review of residential green building research in 2020, USGBC highlights several reports on the topics of home energy scoring, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on potential home buying, the equity gap in energy expenditures and the effects of teleworking on energy use.

The Value of Adding Home Energy Score to Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs | National Association of State Energy Officials

Released by the National Association of State Energy Officials in May, this paper examines the value of documenting energy efficiency improvements done via low-income energy efficiency programs. The report found that the benefits experienced by participants in the program can be increased by obtaining a home energy label. These benefits include improved energy efficiency, reduced energy burden and enhanced resident health. A uniform standard like the U.S. Department of Energy’s Home Energy Score can be used to compare similar homes and streamline analysis.

Learn how LEED can support high levels of energy performance in our policy brief on LEED v4 and energy.

America at Home Study | DAHLIN Group, tst ink LLC, Strategic Solutions Alliance

This study explores the consequences of COVID-19 on the home and community, and how the virus and surrounding effects could affect future design and amenity features. Surveying 3,000 U.S. adults online, researchers and analysts from DAHLIN Group, tst ink LLC and Strategic Solutions Alliance sought to capture consumer sentiment in the time of the pandemic in order to understand the design changes desired by consumers in new homes and communities. Researchers found that 92% of respondents have already made changes in their homes as a result of COVID-19, that 73% were disinfecting more and that 45% of millennials, specifically, were using rooms for multiple combined purposes.

USGBC recently announced our new LEED Safety First pilot credits to address concerns of building owners and occupants related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Race Gap in Residential Energy Expenditures | Energy Institute at Haas

For this study, Eva Lyubich of the Economics Department at the University of California, Berkeley, sought to answer the question “Do Black households spend more on residential energy each month compared to white households?” By referencing data of the American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, Lyubich found that Black households have higher residential energy expenditures than white households in the U.S., and that this gap persists even when accounting for differences in income, household size, homeowner status and city of residence. The report notes the long history of discriminatory practices in housing; discrepancies in accumulated wealth and housing stock are possible explanations for the current residential energy expenditure gap. Black households report fewer Energy Star appliances and home features and are less likely to receive a rebate or tax credit for upgrading an appliance.

Learn how LEED promotes socially responsible practices through social equity pilot credits, as developed by the LEED Social Equity Working Group.

A Systematic Review of the Energy and Climate Impacts of Teleworking| Hook, Court, Sovacool, Sorrell

This study publicized by the World Economic Forum examined the perceived energy efficiency benefits associated with working from home, and found that the benefits could be fewer than anticipated. Although many workers are now teleworking to combat the spread of COVID-19, research suggests that overall energy savings are likely limited. To see real benefits, remote work must be widespread and full-time, and commutes should be combined with other duties, like shopping. As people continue to work from home due to COVID-19, residential energy use in the U.S. is likely to rise by up to 8%, the study found. 

If you have suggestions for studies or reports for us to highlight in the future, please contact Alysson Blackwelder.

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