Electrify Maryland

The movement to create cleaner, healthier, all-electric new homes and buildings is lighting up the country. There are wins on electrification in California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Colorado, and even nearby DC. CCAN has a bold vision that Maryland will join their ranks and eventually become a leader.

Building electrification would benefit community members by giving them access to cleaner air, healthier homes, good jobs, affordable clean energy, and energy efficiency to reduce monthly energy bills while helping the state meet its climate goals. 

Gas in Buildings: How Do We Use It?

About half of residents in our region use gas for their furnace, water heater, or stove. In the United States, 16% of natural gas is used by homes, and 11% is used by commercial buildings, meaning that nationwide, buildings create about a quarter of the national demand for natural gas.

The Facts Gas Companies Don’t Want You To know

  • Building construction and operations accounted for 40% of all CO2 emissions in the world
  • In Maryland, burning fossil fuels for buildings produce the emissions equivalent of almost 4.5 million cars, or five coal plants every year
  • Gas infrastructure is linked to the contamination of water, pollution, and damage to the ecosystem
  • From 2010 – 2019 the US suffered 1,411 significant gas incidents – roughly one every three days leading to fatalities, serious injuries, and more than $3.5 billion in property damage [3] [5]
  • Gas causes health impacts such as respiratory and skin irritation, neurological problems, dizziness, nosebleeds, nausea, and headaches [4][5]
  • Five out of 10 Americans live in areas with unhealthy air, according to the American Lung Association’s new State of the Air report. 
  • Gas stoves are a primary source of combustion (burning) pollution inside the home. Gas stoves produce dangerous levels of air pollutants – such as nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide – inside the home that would violate outdoor standards [5]

The Solution: Building Electrification

To address the negative impacts of gas in our homes, we must invest in a sustainable alternative – electrification through renewable energy. Thankful, electrification is a strong investment offering tremendous benefits that make it attractive independent of the need to avoid the climate crisis and its impacts. These benefits will result in healthier homes, an improved climate, and a vibrant economy.

  • Improving health and safety: Electrifying buildings helps improve indoor environmental quality. Improved air quality can reduce asthma symptoms and other health impacts especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.  All-electric buildings also eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and reduce the risk of fires from combustion.
  • Promoting justice: Efficiency and electrification programs can provide targeted support specifically for low to moderate-income (LMI) households. LMI households face higher energy burdens and higher rates of energy insecurity than higher-income households, and may be disproportionately affected by building-related health issues, such as indoor air pollution from gas stoves. Of the households in Maryland that would save by electrifying, 39% are low- and moderate-income. Each year, they would save an average of $413. Low- and moderate-income households are those making up to 80% of local area median income.
  • Improving the condition and value of buildings: Electrification and electric upgrades act as investments in the future of the communities that they are in and create a foundation for other continued improvements.
  • Supporting job creation and economic recovery and development: Decarbonizing buildings through renewable energy, efficiency, and electrification helps create jobs. Investing in energy efficiency, for example, creates nearly three times more jobs per dollar than investing in the fossil fuel sector. Decarbonizing the building stock will also require local labor; construction jobs cannot be outsourced in the same way that manufacturing or other sectors’ jobs may be. According to Rewiring America, electrification would create 4,200 installation jobs in Maryland.
  • Investing in underserved housing: Building sector transformations offer an opportunity to correct for historic institutional disinvestment in specific communities.  
  • Cost reduction:  1.7 million households in Maryland across every county are currently using electric resistance, fuel oil, or propane would save $435 per year by switching to electric according to Rewiring America. 31% of households using natural gas would also save on annual energy bills. The number of households that would save and the average savings will continue to increase given the trajectory of heat pump technology improvements.
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Electrify Maryland: For All, Not Some

Although everyone deserves to breathe clean air, pollution—indoors and outdoors—does not affect everyone equally. We must create healthier and more resilient buildings. For all.

Electrification of home appliances would benefit low-income households and environmental justice communities by improving both indoor and outdoor air quality. These communities face disproportionate air-pollution burdens and limited access to clean energy resources.

Residents in environmental justice or “disadvantaged communities face some of the worst air quality in the state. Gas appliance emissions add to the persistent outdoor air pollution and can compound existing environmental burdens, placing low-income residents and people of color at even greater risk of adverse health effects from air pollution.

  • Low-income and minority residents disproportionately use kitchen appliances for the purpose of heating their residences (instead of using designated heating devices).[2]
  • Residences occupied by low-income populations are often older and use older, less efficient, and unmaintained appliances. These older appliances may not be regularly maintained due to the cost required and a lack of available funds to repair them, or lack of landlord attention.[2]
  • Low-income residences are likely to be smaller in size and have inadequate ventilation, resulting in higher indoor pollutant concentrations. [2]
  • LMI households face higher energy burdens and higher rates of energy insecurity than higher-income households, and they also may be disproportionately affected by buildings-related health issues, such as indoor air pollution from gas stoves

 

The Cost-Effective Solution: All-Electric New Construction

New construction requirements are a sensible first step in the building electrification transition. All-electric construction can save money by avoiding the cost of gas infrastructure in buildings, and in some instances avoiding the costs of distribution lines in new developments. 

The good news is that all-electric new buildings typically have the lowest construction and operating costs. 

According to Rewiring America, 99% of households in Maryland—2.2 million—could save money on energy bills if they used modern, electrified furnaces and water heaters instead of their current machines.

The Maryland Department of the Environment worked with Energy + Environmental Economics (E3)  to assess ways to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045 for Maryland’s buildings sector. E3’s Maryland Buildings Decarbonization Study modeled the construction and operating costs of all-electric new buildings and found the following: 

  • For single-family homes, all-electric homes cost less to construct than new mixed-fuel homes.
  • For multifamily buildings, all-electric costs about the same to construct as mixed-fuel buildings.
  • As Maryland moves toward a net-zero-emissions goal, all-electric new buildings of any type— residential and commercial—will have the lowest total annual costs (including equipment, maintenance, and energy costs).

Learn more about the mounting evidence which shows all-electric new construction is cost-effective here.

Leading at the Local Level

Right now, CCAN is working with volunteers across the state to put pressure on local decision-makers to support new building electrification as an immediate way to stop the buildout of new gas infrastructure. We are starting this work on the local level but this will build towards state action, similar to our successful approach in the fracking campaign.

By targeting a number of selected localities, we can build awareness, momentum, and support while refining our messaging and tactics — eventually leading to a statewide effort by 2023. 

Take Action

If you want to get involved, fill out a volunteer form or contact anthony@chesapeakeclimate.org