As China's urbanization and economic growth continue, rising energy use in the building sector poses significant challenges to national energy and carbon goals. While China is ripe for efficiency savings as the government seeks to change incentives and boost energy productivity, many questions about energy efficiency potential and impacts remain unanswered.
This study is part of a collaborative project to quantify China's energy efficiency opportunity today and until 2050. The very few previous studies that have explored the subject lack credible baselines as well as transparency in data and methodology. For this specific study, we developed an updated bottom-up end-use model of China's building sector by accounting for differences in building type, climate zones, new versus existing buildings, and efficiency retrofits versus new efficient designs. This paper introduces the methodology and key assumptions for a baseline scenario of efficiency development in the building sector from 2010 to 2050. The baseline scenario assumes that policies in place by 2010 will continue to have impact with autonomous technological improvement over time, and can serve as a baseline for evaluating the potential of a more transformative and cost-effective pathway of development. We find that residential building energy consumption will continue to grow rapidly through 2050, with space heating, appliances, and cooking as the major energy consumers. Commercial energy consumption will slow after 2020, with office, hotel and retail as the largest building consumers and space heating, cooling and lighting as the three largest end-users.