Introduction to CoBE

Why it’s important

The Co-Benefits of the Built Environment (CoBE) tool benefits anyone who works with energy and buildings, wants to understand the impact of their energy consumption better, and is interested in reducing that impact. The tool helps building owners, operators, investors, and others quantify health and climate benefits for evidence-based decision-making.

CoBE can evaluate the current performance of buildings or be used for future planning. After entering data, users receive an overview of the footprint of their building portfolios. The information includes emissions (greenhouse gas and air pollutants), climate impacts, and public health impacts of building energy use and benchmarks emission intensities against climate policies. 

What it does

The CoBE tool calculates the greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutant emissions, climate impacts, and public health impacts of building energy use, and allows users to compare their emissions to climate policies. Users simply collect building energy use data and enter it into the tool, along with some basic information on their buildings. After entering data, the CoBE tool can be used for footprint analysis, or for evaluating interventions. In both cases, the CoBE tool provides estimates of reductions in greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions, along with the consequent climate and public health impacts. To evaluate interventions, users can enter new energy use data representing energy use under different scenarios, and the CoBE tool will calculate a new footprint for a building with the relevant interventions. The users then can compare the impacts of any intervention scenario with their initial business-as-usual scenario.

How to enter data

Users can either enter building information manually or upload a spreadsheet with a list of buildings. See our walkthrough for information on how to enter data. Our case studies provide information on how to use the tool to conduct what-if scenarios.

How it works

The CoBE tool combines energy use, greenhouse gas, and air pollutant emission data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). CoBE then estimates the health impacts of emissions using a peer-reviewed model that provides the total impacts of air pollution emissions for sources in each county in the contiguous 48 states of the U.S. and Washington D.C.