Building an all-electric Volpe : a perspective on economic considerations and carbon emissions
Author(s)Sharma, Charu,S.M.Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Perspective on economic considerations and carbon emissions
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
Leslie K. Norford.
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Recent studies show the need for deeper and faster cuts to global emissions if countries/cities are to meet goals set out in the Paris agreement. Buildings account for 35% of US greenhouse gas emissions and offer a unique opportunity to help reduce a large part of these emissions while providing net benefits. Buildings in the US rely on natural gas for 40% of their energy demand and primarily use it for space and water heating. This leads to higher emissions, leaky infrastructure, and public health risks because of poor indoor air quality. Devising economic alternatives that can help offset this natural gas dependency while making low energy-consuming buildings offers the best chance to reduce emissions at scale. In this thesis, we focus on exploring such alternatives by taking the case of a mixed-use site. We take the example of John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Centre, Cambridge, a mixed-use site being developed by MIT consisting of housing, retail, offices, and laboratories. To analyze its carbon emissions over its lifetime, this research first estimates energy demand and compares two different energy sources - local electricity grid and an on-site cogeneration plant. Second, we analyze the use of natural gas for heating in each of the above supply scenarios in addition to making projections for future carbon intensity and energy costs. Third, we evaluate the impact of the recommendations in different landscapes by forecasting the price trend of electricity and natural gas and understanding their sensitivities to each scenario. Finally, using the performance metric of carbon emissions per person per year, this project analyzes relative emission variances in different scenarios. We find that an all-electric model is profitable for residential buildings and only marginally more expensive for other typologies over its lifetime than the baseline buildings.
Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, May, 2020Cataloged from the official PDF of thesis.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology