The future of air conditioning for buildings
The Building Technologies Office (BTO), within the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, works with researchers and industry to develop and deploy technologies that can substantially reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in residential and commercial buildings. Air conditioning (A/C) systems in buildings contribute to GHG emissions both directly through refrigerant emissions, as well as indirectly through fossil fuel combustion for power generation. BTO promotes pre-competitive research and development (R&D) on next-generation HVAC technologies that support the phase down of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) production and consumption, as well as cost-effective energy efficiency improvements.
Over the past several decades, product costs and lifecycle cooling costs have declined substantially in many global markets due to improved, higher-volume manufacturing and higher energy efficiency driven by R&D investments and efficiency policies including minimum efficiency standards and labeling programs.
This report characterizes the current landscape and trends in the global A/C market, including discussion of both direct and indirect climate impacts, and potential global warming impacts from growing global A/C usage. The report also documents solutions that can help achieve international goals for energy efficiency and GHG emissions reductions. The solutions include pathways related to low-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants, energy efficiency innovations, long-term R&D initiatives, and regulatory actions.
DOE provides, with this report, a fact-based vision for the future of A/C use around the world. DOE intends for this vision to reflect a broad and balanced aggregation of perspectives. DOE brings together this content in an effort to support dialogue within the international community and help keep key facts and objectives at the forefront among the many important discussions.