It is hard to conceptualize the impact that our own energy use has on the world, particularly as it relates to carbon emissions and climate change. Although we understand the importance of reducing energy consumption, it often feels like the energy we use on a regular basis is just a drop in the bucket. But the key is to remember that those many small drops add up quickly. Reducing energy use in our buildings, even by a modest amount, can, in aggregate, have a significant impact.
According to the International Energy Outlook 2016, published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), energy consumed in the buildings sector constitutes about 20% of total global site energy consumed. The "buildings sector" includes residential and commercial users, and encompasses all energy consumed at the building for uses such as heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, refrigeration, computers, and other various equipment and consumer products. Of this 20%, residential users are responsible for about two-thirds, while commercial users are responsible for the remaining one-third. In other words, commercial buildings around the world account for 7% of global site energy consumption.