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Ask an Expert - Electric, Gas and Water Use in Commercial Facilities

"What is the average electric, gas, and water usage for commercial building space in the US?"

Average energy use, or intensity, is defined per square foot of building space. Electrical use is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) while natural gas consumption is measured in cubic feet. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average, annual electricity use for commercial building space is 14 kWh per square foot, and the average natural gas usage is 42 cubic feet per square foot.

The following table compares average annual electricity and natural gas consumption for select building types.

 Average Annual Energy Use Per Square Foot
 Building Type  Electric (kWh)  Natural Gas (cubic feet)
 Health Care  23  110
 Office  17  32
 Retail  14  31
 Grocery  49  50
 Restaurant  38  141

See the U.S. Department of Energy's Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey for more detailed information about building energy use. 

Water use for commercial buildings varies widely and is typically measured in gallons per day for some parameter specific to the building type, such as per bed for a hospital. The following are some examples of average water use ranges for selected commercial buildings:

  • Hospitals—150 to 600 gallons per day per bed
  • Restaurants—10 to 90 gallons per day per seat
  • Apartment buildings—50 to 200 gallons per day per dwelling

See the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense program for more information about commercial building water use and ways to conserve.


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