NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Commercial Building Electricity Consumption Dynamics: The Role of Structure Quality, Human Capital, and Contract Incentives

Matthew E. Kahn, Nils Kok, John M. Quigley

NBER Working Paper No. 18781
Issued in February 2013
NBER Program(s):   EEE

Commercial real estate plays a key role in determining the urban sustainability of a metropolitan area. While the residential sector has been the primary focus of energy policies, commercial buildings are now responsible for most of the durable building stock's total electricity consumption. This paper exploits a unique panel of commercial buildings to investigate the impact of building vintage, contract incentives, and human capital on electricity consumption across commercial structures. We document that electricity consumption and building quality are complements, not substitutes. Technological progress may reduce the energy demand from heating, cooling and ventilation, but the behavioral response of building tenants and the large-scale adoption of appliances more than offset these savings, leading to increases in energy consumption in more recently constructed, more efficient structures.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18781

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