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Mapping urban building fossil fuel CO2 emissions with a high spatial and temporal resolution


Buildings contribute about 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in the USA. The estimation of urban building fossil fuel CO2 emissions with the fine spatial and temporal resolution is critical for climate change studies and developing optimal plans for reaching emission reduction goals. This study proposed a new method to map fossil fuel CO2 emissions at the building level and hourly scale. Specifically, a building energy use model was developed and used for modeling building energy consumption at the hourly scale through integrating building prototypes from the accessor’s data, the number of floors from remote sensing data, floor area from footprint data, and energy use intensity from the Energy Plus model. Furthermore, the greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator was applied to convert calculated building energy consumption to greenhouse gas emissions at the building level and hourly scale. Research results indicate that the spatial distribution pattern of fossil fuel CO2 emissions is largely decided by building type, building height, and building density. In particular, the largest fossil fuel CO2 emissions are located in the center of Manhattan which is composed of large offices and hotels. In terms of temporal pattern, stable and similar monthly greenhouse gas emissions could be detected throughout four seasons, and two small emission peaks could be found in around July and December which are caused by high cooling electricity use and high gas heating consumption. The hourly emissions patterns also indicate the active relationship between fossil fuel CO2 emissions and daily human activities.

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This research was supported by the Faculty First Grant, New Faculty Grant, and Sustainability Faculty Fellowship from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The author also would like to thank the reviewers for their constructive suggestions on an earlier version of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to W. Li.

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Li, W. Mapping urban building fossil fuel CO2 emissions with a high spatial and temporal resolution. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 19, 1785–1798 (2022).

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  • Fossil fuel CO2 emission
  • Buildings
  • Energy Plus
  • Greenhouse gas equivalence calculator
  • High spatial and temporal resolution