Report shows how electrifying Vermont’s buildings could transform energy system

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Report shows how electrifying Vermont’s buildings could transform energy system

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 3:30pm -- tim

Vermont has the ability to make a big cut to damaging fossil fuel use in homes and offices

Vermont Business Magazine Vermont could see a critical reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and gas usage if it electrifies all of its buildings during the next 30 years, according to a new report released Tuesday by Environment America 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 Vermont’s homes and businesses with electricity by 2050 is expected to result in emissions reductions of 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide -- equal to taking over 230,000 cars off the road -- and reductions in pipeline gas usage equal to 18.1 billion cubic feet.

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 Vermont could see important environmental and health gains by going all-electric,” said Brynn Furey, energy conservation and efficiency associate with Environment America. “The possibilities we see in Vermont should give us the hope and motivation we need to kickstart the movement towards 100 percent electric buildings.”

This report comes on the heels of a voting process in which 65% of Burlington voters supported giving the City Council more power to regulate heat sources for buildings. The amendment still needs to go to the state capital, but if passed, it could give city leaders more ability to accelerate the transition to electric heating systems.

In addition to state-specific data, the study identifies the national benefits from banning fossil fuels in homes and businesses. Electrifying a majority of America’s buildings by 2050 could reduce net emissions from the 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 as America moves 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,” 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 Vermont makes the switch, the sooner we’ll realize the benefits of cleaner and more efficient energy.”

Environment America is a national network of 29 state environmental groups. Our staff work together for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the United States put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy.

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.

Environment America and U.S. PIRG are both part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.

Source: MONTPELIER -- US PIRG 4.8.2021