CCAN has a bold vision to electrify every new home in Maryland and make our state 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.
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, and Colorado. And now we’re gaining momentum in Maryland. We’ve already passed laws to electrify new buildings in Montgomery County and nearby Washington, DC. Now we’re setting our sights on Howard County. Soon, we’ll go statewide!
Green Buildings: We Must Shift Away From Gas
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
- In 2021 and 2022, gas explosions in Maryland destroyed numerous residential and commercial buildings and taken several lives.
- According to the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. reports to federal authorities, leaks in Baltimore are so frequent that nearly two dozen of them are discovered each day on average.
- 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.  
- Gas causes health impacts such as respiratory and skin irritation, neurological problems, dizziness, nosebleeds, nausea, and headaches 
- 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. 
The Solution: Green Buildings Through Electrification
Electrification is a strong investment offering tremendous benefits. These benefits will lead to 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. And there’s no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and reduced risk of fires.
- 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 if they switched to electric appliances.
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 local jobs. Investing in energy efficiency, for example, creates nearly three times more jobs per dollar than investing in the fossil fuel sector. According to Rewiring America, electrification would create 4,200 installation jobs in Maryland.
Saving on bills:
- 1.7 million households in Maryland across every county are currently using electric resistance, fuel oil, or propane. They 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.
See what people are saying about green buildings in Maryland!
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, greener, 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).
- 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.
- Low-income residences are likely to be smaller in size and have inadequate ventilation, resulting in higher indoor pollutant concentrations. 
- 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 Green Buildings
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 green 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).
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 green 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.
Victory in Montgomery County
In November 22, the Montgomery County Council unanimously passed the “Comprehensive Building Decarbonization,” which will ensure that all-electric building standards become part of the County’s building code no later than the end of 2026. This bill guarantees that almost all new buildings will be equipped with electric hot water systems and heat pumps for space heating and cooling, creating a zero-greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions future. It sets a new example for Maryland and the nation as part of a growing trend to “electrify eveyrthing” in the face of rapid climate change. Read more here –>
Victory in Washington, DC
In July 2022, the DC Council unanimously approved two bills that will for the first time mandate that all new and substantially renovated buildings in the city be powered by 100% carbon-free energy (with the exception of low-rise residential structures)! By passing the “Climate Change Commitment Act” and the “DC Clean Energy Building Codes Amendment Act,” this nearby locality sets in motion a phase out of methane gas use across much of the nation’s capital. The city government itself, as part of these new bills, will also permanently discontinue purchasing fossil-fuel powered vehicles and carbon-burning appliances in government buildings. These actions now put DC at the forefront of climate policy among US states and cities. Read more here –>
Next up: Howard County
The movement is growing! On January 3, Howard County Councilmember Christiana Rigby introduced a bill requesting a report documenting changes necessary to require electrification of new buildings. CB5-2023, the Clean New Buildings Climate Act, seeks to ensure that future homes and buildings in Howard county use only electric heat, hot water, and other appliances – not burning fossil fuels and creating greenhouse gasses. This is a big step forward for Howard County, so let’s get it done! Read more and take action with our legislative arm, CCAN Action Fund–>
- Factsheet: The Scary Truth About Gas, And the Good News About Electrification
- CCAN Press Release: MD Commission on Climate Change Recommends All-Electric New Construction by 2024
- CCAN Press Release: New Gonzales Poll on Climate Change: Maryland Voters Support a 60% Cut in Greenhouse Gas Pollution and a Mandate for All-Electric New Buildings Statewide
- Eight MD Gubernatorial Candidates Commit to 100% Clean Electricity by 2035, Other Equitable Climate Actions
- Factsheet: Why Electrify in Maryland? The Path to Decarbonization Relies on Electrification
- Factsheet: All-Electric New Construction: A Win for the Climate and Your Wallet.
- Factsheet: Grid Reliability and Inclusive Distribution Act
- Factsheet: Healthy Homes: Gas vs. Electric
Recent Major Gas Explosions in Maryland
- November 4, 2021: A gas explosion caused about $200,000 in damage to western Maryland home
- October 11 2021: A gas explosion in Edgewood leveled a home down to its foundation
- May 14 2021: A natural gas explosion in Baltimore County left several Baltimore Gas and Electric workers injured, one of them in serious condition.
- August 10, 2020: A major gas explosion in Northwest Baltimore levelled homes, killing 2 and seriously injuring several others
- August 25, 2019: Columbia shopping center is partially destroyed by gas explosion
- Op-ed: “Maryland, once a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, falls dangerously behind.” Donald Boesch, Baltimore Sun, 11/3/2021
- Op-ed: Del. Robbyn Lewis: “Maryland Needs to Act Boldly on Climate Change.” Maryland Matters, 11/12/2021
- “Opinion: Baltimore, Environmental Justice and Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda.” Larry Stafford, Maryland Matters, 10/12/2021
- “News on the Campaign to Electrify Mongtomery County.” CCAN blog, 7/5/22