Commercial Buildings in Communities with Different Income and Racial Characteristics

Last updated: 06-15-2022
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DataTrends is an ongoing series of research and analysis from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) using data from the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® tool. This 23-page report compares building performance, the prevalence of electrification, reliance on heating oil, and the use of on-site solar at buildings benchmarked in Portfolio Manager, across communities with different income and racial characteristics.

Using ENERGY STAR scores as a metric for building energy performance, the analysis shows that buildings overall in communities of color score an average of 2% lower than buildings in majority-white communities. Buildings in low-income communities score an average of 4% lower than those in moderate- and high-income communities. In low-income communities and communities of color, K-12 schools and multifamily housing buildings show the largest differences in ENERGY STAR scores compared to higher-income and majority-white communities, lower by roughly 9%.

The distribution of buildings that are all-electric, use heating oil, or have on-site solar may indicate how well positioned a community’s buildings are for achieving low-carbon operation. For communities in cold to moderate climates with the highest proportion of residents of color (greater than 75%) the data reveal the following relative to communities with fewer residents of color:

  • The proportion of all-electric buildings is roughly 50% lower.
  • Heating oil is used more frequently.
  • The proportion of K-12 schools using heating oil is 2 to 3 times higher.

The data also revealed that, in both communities with a majority of low-income residents and a majority of residents of color, a lower proportion of K-12 schools have onsite solar.

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Topic: DataTrends
Resource Type: DataTrends