We Don’t Need Gas For Buildings

Almost a third of all gas in the United States is consumed by appliances in our homes and businesses, making the building sector a major source of carbon emissions and other air pollution. Electric alternatives for space and water heating, cooking, and other purposes now provide a practical and affordable pathway to eliminate gas use from our buildings.

The Building Sector Is a Major Source of Carbon Pollution

Burning gas in homes and businesses, mostly for space and water heat, accounts for about 10% of U.S. carbon emissions, and gas use in buildings has remained steady over the past 15 years.

Buildings have also become a leading source of outdoor air pollution, which results in thousands of premature deaths.

Buildings are a Major Source of Pollution
We Can Slash Emissions By Switching to Electric

We Can Slash Gas Emissions By Switching To Electric Alternatives

We can slash gas emissions by switching to electric alternatives for heating, cooking, and other home and building needs. Electricity is getting cleaner with the rapid expansion of renewables, while electric alternatives for heating and other purposes are becoming more efficient. 

This creates an opportunity to reduce the climate impact of buildings through electrification. According to an analysis by the Sierra Club, electric heat pumps can cut pollution in all 50 states – even those with grids that remain overly reliant on gas and coal-fired power plants.

All-Electric Construction Is Increasingly Affordable

Electrification of space and water heating can be less expensive than gas, especially for new construction where the cost of adding and maintaining gas piping can be avoided altogether. 

Analysis from RMI also finds that switching from gas to all-electric in new construction saves homeowners money in cities across the U.S., and, according to Rewiring America, 87% of U.S. households would save money on their energy bills by moving to modern electric appliances.

All-Electric Construction Is Increasingly Affordable
Leading Cities Are Going Electric

Leading Cities & States Have Begun The Transition to Gas-Free Buildings

Over the last two years, several dozen local governments – including leading cities like New York City, Denver, San Jose, and Seattle – have moved aggressively to phase out gas use in buildings, which along with cars are the predominant greenhouse gas contributors in many cities. 

Meanwhile, the state governments of California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon are investigating how to manage an eventual transition away from gas, including how and when to wind down investments in existing gas distribution networks.

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Electrification Is A Job Creator

Work to decarbonize buildings, especially to retrofit the existing building stock, would create a significant number of new jobs. According to a groundbreaking study released by Rewiring America, the United States can create 25 million jobs by substantially transitioning from fossil fuels in the power, transportation, building, and industrial sectors by 2035, using only existing technologies.

According to the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, building electrification would produce more jobs than currently exist in the gas industry – and proactive planning could protect workers affected by the transition. A recent report from the Sierra Club also finds that a national clean buildings program could create more than 517,000 good jobs per year.

Going Electric and Ditching Gas Creates Jobs
“Renewable Natural Gas” Is Not an Alternative to Electrification

“Renewable Gas” Is Not An Alternative To Electrification

However, biomethane – or “renewable natural gas,” as the industry now calls it – is much more expensive than fossil gas, has considerable supply constraints, can exacerbate environmental justice concerns, and in many cases is neither environmentally friendly nor sustainable. Switching to hydrogen gas is also not a viable alternative because of its inefficiency and numerous other challenges and safety risks. Electrification of building space and water heating is necessary for achieving emissions reduction goals and is a no-regrets near-term solution, as made clear from two recent reports from the National Academies and researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Evolved Energy Research.