Average Building Size Grows in the U.S.

May 8, 2015

Largest floor space increases found in healthcare, retail sectors.

New commercial facilities in the U.S. are significantly larger than their predecessors, according to the EIA’s Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS).

Not only are facilities becoming larger, with a 21% increase in floor space from 2003 to 2012, but the survey also shows a 14% increase in new facility construction compared to 2003. The survey estimates that in 2012, there were 5.6 million commercial buildings in the U.S. occupying 87 billion square feet of floor space, and also notes that facilities constructed in the 2000s are around 2,700 square feet larger than those built between 1960 and 1999.

While average building size is growing across all sectors, three building types have seen statistically significant increases due to changing consumer desires and needs: healthcare, lodging, and retail. The survey points to increasing life expectancy rates as the primary driver for healthcare facility expansion, and the boost in lodging is attributed to more travelers. The survey also notes that the trend toward big box stores is the likely cause for the increase in retail space. While the CBECS building stock data for 2012 is available, the information about energy use is expected to be released later in 2015.  

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