China’s rapid urbanization has caused dramatically increasing energy consumption in the district heating systems of the building sector in the Jing-Jin-Ji urban agglomeration, and this change has led to enormous air pollution issues in this region. However, the drivers and the sustainable development process of the district heating system of the building sector have not been investigated to understand the management of energy conservation and emissions reduction in the Jing-Jin-Ji urban agglomeration. This study investigates the drivers of the district heating energy consumption of the building sector (DHEB) in the Jing-Jin-Ji urban agglomeration between 2004 and 2016 by developing a decomposition framework. The decoupling status between the DHEB and gross domestic product (GDP) is then analyzed based on the Tapio decoupling index. The results show that a weak decoupling effect is mainly found between the DHEB and GDP in the Jing-Jin-Ji urban agglomeration from 2004 to 2016. The increase in the DHEB in 2004–2016 is largely driven by the growth of the district heating area and population, while the heating energy intensity negatively contributes to the increase. Significant differences in the effects of the share of the energy mix and share of heat production technology were found between subregions in response to government policy, which impacted levels in Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei in decreasing order.
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