Thank you for your interest in the CoBE tool. We hope that you find answers to your questions below. If you need additional information, please email Anna Makido, Research Assistant with the Harvard Healthy Buildings Program: firstname.lastname@example.org
The CoBE v.2 tool utilizes energy-use data from a building or group of buildings to provide information on the climate and health impacts of the building(s).
CoBE v.2 accounts for scope 1 (direct GHG emissions from on-site fuel combustion of fuel oils, natural gas, wood, and other fuels) and scope 2 (indirect GHG emissions from off-site generation of electricity, steam, heating, and cooling) emissions from buildings. CoBE v.2 does not yet account for scope 3 emissions.
Yes, differences in the regional emission footprint of the electricity grid are taken into account.
The energy sources that can be reported in CoBE v.2 include electricity, natural gas, no. 2 fuel oil, no. 4 fuel oil, no. 5 fuel oil, diesel, propane, wood, district chilled water, district steam, and district hot water.
In the CoBE v.2 Emissions Footprint, different pollutants are accounted for based on the selected energy source:
Carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfer dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx)” to “CO2, SO2, and NOx
are covered for electricity use (scope 2 emissions).
The CoBE v.2 Climate Impact accounts for carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O).
The CoBE v.2 Health Impact accounts for different pollutants depending on the emissions scope and source:
The CoBE v.2 Health Impact is based solely on estimated mortality due to PM2.5. CoBE v.2 does not account for health impacts other than mortality from fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and PM2.5 precursors.
CoBE v.2 also does not account for factors such as weather patterns and local community health vulnerabilities.
Currently, the CoBE v.2 tool does not have the health impacts from indoor air pollution.
CoBE v.2 presents estimates of the total health impacts from emissions at a national level, but does not provide the user with a breakdown of specifically where these impacts are occurring within the U.S. It would require significant computational power to model these fine-detailed estimates of source-to-receptor relationships, and thus they are not included in this version.
CoBE v.2 uses the value of statistical life (VSL) produced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The VSL is not the literal value of a human life. It is a willingness to pay for a slight reduction in the risk of dying.
Not yet, but future versions of this tool could include nonmortality health impacts.
CoBE v.2 uses a social cost of carbon annual discount rate of 3%, which is the median of the three discount rates provided by the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases in its guidance for the social cost of carbon: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/TechnicalSupportDocument_SocialCostofCarbonMethaneNitrousOxide.pdf
While CoBE v.2 cannot currently take other energy sources, we are working on including more fuel types in future versions.
CoBE is not an official regulatory tool. However, the information provided by CoBE can help evaluate whether the energy consumption or emissions from your building or building portfolio complies with some state and city building performance policies.
AVERT is an EPA tool that can be used to calculate the changes in emissions and energy use from additional renewable energy deployment. An older renewable energy module exists on the CoBE website, and it is based on AVERT. There are a few key differences between CoBE and AVERT:
CoBE covers CO2, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), primary PM2.5, SO2, and NOx.