New report: By electrifying all its buildings, New York could reap the highest health and climate benefits in the country
NEW YORK CITY -- New York ranks number one in the nation for potential reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and potential reduction of gas usage as a result of building electrification, according to a new report released today by Environment New York Research & Policy Center, U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. The study, Electric Buildings: Repowering Homes and Businesses for Our Health and Environment, found that completely repowering New York's homes and businesses with electricity by 2050 would result in emissions reductions of 35.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide -- equal to taking over 7.6 million cars off the road -- and reductions in pipeline gas usage equal to 652.1 billion cubic feet. Going all-electric in New York’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 New York 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 New Yorkers live cleaner, greener and all around healthier lives,” said Brynn Furey, energy conservation and efficiency associate with Environment New York Research & Policy Center. “The possibilities we see in our state should give us the hope and motivation we need to kickstart the movement towards 100 percent electric buildings.”
Getting rid of gas power in our buildings would protect New Yorkers’ health and the planet by reducing harmful air pollution as well as lowering the occurrences of methane leakages. The report cites a recent study that looked at five major urban areas on the East Coast -- include New York City -- and found that these urban areas emit more than twice the amount of methane previously estimated by the EPA, with most of these emissions coming from leaks of gas systems in homes and businesses.
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. According to a study cited in the report, installing heat pumps over gas, propane, or heating oil infrastructure in new construction reduced lifetime costs for consumers in New York City.
“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,” Furey 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 New York makes the switch, the sooner we’ll realize the benefits of cleaner, healthier and more efficient energy.”
Environment New York Research & Policy Center is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting New York’s air, water and open spaces in an era defined by climate change. It is part of The Public Interest Network, a national consortium working to improve American lives in an age of rapidly advancing technology and growing abundance.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.