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USGBC: State of Decarbonization, 2023

Dec. 12, 2023
Released at COP28, this new report assesses the current climate for decarbonizing U.S. commercial real estate.

By PETER TEMPLETON, CEO, U.S. Green Building Council

As the world gathers in Dubai for the COP28 climate change conference, we find ourselves at an inflection point. Earlier this year, the United Nations issued the first global stocktake report measuring progress toward the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord. It found that the rise in global emissions has slowed, but progress is not nearly enough to achieve the Paris targets and avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

The implication is clear: the world must act with greater collective urgency, and leaders from the public and private sectors must do more to lead the way. USGBC is embracing the challenge.

In partnership with Arup, the award-winning sustainable design and engineering firm, we are proud to present the State of Decarbonization: Progress in U.S. Commercial Buildings 2023 report, a deeply researched snapshot of U.S. commercial building decarbonization trendlines and opportunities to accelerate progress.

Among the report’s findings are that absolute U.S. commercial building emissions have decreased to 1990 levels despite a 55% increase in U.S. commercial floor area over the same period. But greater progress is needed for the United States to achieve its commitments under the Paris agreement even after accounting for the expected impacts of federal Inflation Reduction Act investments.

This report is a call to action and a reminder that there is no scenario in which the United States or the world achieves its decarbonization, climate resilience, public health, and social equity goals without improving the places we live, work, learn and play.

Now Available for Download

First released at COP28, State of Decarbonization: Progress in U.S. Commercial Buildings 2023 is the first report to bring together, in one place, a discussion of the U.S. commercial real estate sector’s progress, the current status of data availability, and an exploration of the mechanisms and levers available to reduce the carbon emissions of commercial buildings in the United States. With full citations, sources, and methodology provided, these analyses focus on energy and operational emissions where data are more robust and actions more mature.

The report complements USGBC’s growing body of critical new resources for building decarbonization, to help policymakers, advocates, and companies understand the landscape and develop strategies to achieve the urgent scale of action needed.

Charts and graphs

We have provided tables and charts to facilitate use of the report’s resources. Unless otherwise stated, the graphics provided are the property of USGBC and are protected by intellectual property laws. You may freely download and copy the material with attribution.

Recommended citation
Melanie Colburn, Tess McNamara, and Linda Toth, State of Decarbonization: Progress in U.S. Commercial Buildings 2023, U.S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC), 2023,