Getting to Scale for Decarbonizing Homes in the US: An Industry Survey
Most of the residential building stock in the US and EU was built according to the building and construction code prevailing at time of construction and have poor energy performance that contributes to higher carbon emissions. Energy and carbon reduction upgrade projects of existing residential buildings are still a niche market compared to conventional building retrofitting or renovation. We need energy saving and decarbonization projects aiming to reduce carbon emissions if we are to meet our climate goals. In order to get to scale with these projects we need to better understand what motivates and deters occupants and owners to conduct home performance upgrades. We conducted a survey to gather information from home performance contractors and stakeholders, to learn about promising approaches and technologies from the industry perspective. This survey identified limiting factors such as project complexity, high costs, perceived risks, extensive disruption, and work being unfamiliar to many contractors. The survey also identified paths to motivate homeowners, including building code simplification and emphasizing non-energy benefits such as improved health and in indoor air quality. Finally, the survey respondents highlighted potential innovations in technologies, such as heat pumps, monitoring and diagnostics. Electrification is highlighted as the fast and effective path to take on large scale decarbonization of the building stock. Finally, there is the need to develop more incentives to increase demand and business models to create the businesses and the workforce that is required to get to scale.