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New report: By electrifying all its buildings, California could reap some of the highest health and climate benefits in the country
SACRAMENTO -- California ranks 2nd in the nation for potential reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and potential reduction of gas usage, according to a new report released today by Environment California Research & Policy Center, CalPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. The study, Electric Buildings: Repowering Homes and Businesses for Our Health and Environment, found that completely repowering California’s homes and businesses with electricity by 2050 would result in taking 5.9 million cars off the road. Going all-electric in our state’s buildings would help cut emissions, improve public health and protect the planet, the report concluded.
The report also outlines how overcoming key barriers standing in the way of widespread building electrification can improve public health and play a key role in fighting climate change.
“It has never been easier to make our homes and businesses fossil fuel free and California stands to gain some of the highest benefits in the country by going all-electric. It’s time to get rid of dirty, dangerous technologies and swap them out for efficient, electric ones to ensure that Californians live cleaner, greener and all around healthier lives,” said Lizzi Nickerson, Clean Energy Associate with Environment California Research & Policy Center. “The possibilities we see in California should give us the hope and motivation we need to kickstart the movement towards 100 percent electric buildings.”
The Rocky Mountain Institute found that customers in 11 different cities across the country could save thousands of dollars each by replacing fossil fuel-powered equipment with electric alternatives for space and water heating over a 15-year period, including Oakland, CA. Over 50 Californian cities and counties have proposed or adopted building codes to ban or discourage new buildings from using gas and California is considering banning or discouraging new gas installations state-wide.
“Embracing electrification in our building sector will allow us to lower our greenhouse gas emissions, reduce costs in new construction, improve indoor and outdoor air quality, create good-paying jobs in a green economy, safeguard our public health, and support affordable housing” said state senator Dave Cortese (D) of San Jose “It is time for California to prioritize a transition to efficient, pollution-free buildings to ensure a more sustainable future for our state, country and world.”
“There is a lot of untapped potential and that’s why so many folks are interested in the transition to electrification” said Jose Torres, the CA Director with the Building Decarbonization Coalition “because of the potential benefits for jobs, the potential cost savings, and the potential to launch us into the future. We’re at a crossroads right now, and it’s time for us to act.”
“Californians deserve to know that the systems that keep us warm, provide us with hot water and run our appliances aren’t producing dangerous emissions that threaten our safety both inside and outside of our homes,” said Claudia Deeg, CALPIRG Public Health Associate. “Breaking off our dependence on fossil fuels is going to require big steps that start with rewiring our buildings and hooking them up to a clean, green grid.”
In addition to highlighting states that have the most to gain from banning fossil fuels in homes and businesses, the study also analyzes the potential national benefits from this change. Electrifying a majority of our American homes and businesses by 2050 could reduce overall net emissions from America’s residential and commercial sectors by 306 million metric tons, which is equivalent to taking about 65 million cars off the road.
Electric Buildings also emphasizes the role such electric technologies as heat pumps, water heaters and other electric appliances like induction stoves can play in moving away from fossil fuels. Advances in electrifying these technologies have made them more efficient and affordable. This means that using fully electric systems in homes and commercial buildings now makes sense for owners in almost all instances of new construction.
“Last century, many families saw their quality of life improve when they switched from a coal-burning stove to an electric or gas range, or an icebox to an electric refrigerator,” Lizzi Nickerson said. “Today, a similar technological revolution is underway to replace fossil fuel heating and cooking with electric technologies. Current electric heat pumps offer better indoor climate control and lower operating costs than gas furnaces and the sooner America makes the switch, the sooner we’ll realize the benefits of cleaner, healthier and more efficient energy.”
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