Builders turn to electricity to combat climate change

by | Mar 23, 2020 | Blog, Construction

When it comes to climate change and the need to curtail the use of fossil fuel, many of us focus our concerns on automobiles. But buildings are another major gas guzzler.

“Globally, buildings generate nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, but in densely developed American cities, the rate can be substantially higher,“ notes a recent article in the New York Times.

The good news is that developers and local governments are taking aim at this problem.

Last July, Berkeley, Calif., became the first American city to ban natural gas hookups in new construction, notes the Times. Other communities in California have followed suit, and the idea has spread to other areas across the country.  For example, Brookline, Mass., has passed a prohibition on new gas connections “and other municipalities near it are poised to do the same,” reports the Times.

“Now major cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, are in various stages of considering pro-electric legislation as part of the ‘electrify everything’ movement,” the newspaper adds.

As the electric grid becomes cleaner, due to renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, many are seeing the benefits of electricity. And even without legislation, some real estate construction companies are embarking on all-electric construction.

For instance, the software company Adobe is constructing an 18-story, all electric office building in San Jose, Calif., site of the company’s headquarters. That’s just one of many planned projects.

Despite the obvious benefits to the environment, however, important obstacles remain: Given a choice between electric or gas stoves, Americans in many parts of the country prefer gas. While nearly 45% of homes in the Southeast only use electricity, notes the Times, home builders elsewhere worry that buyers may spurn homes that don’t offer gas stoves.

In addition, some builders “are balking at the fast rollout [of new laws], saying they want to retain the option of using gas or simply believe the new rules are being put into action too quickly,” according to the Times.

There’s also the matter of existing buildings and how to tackle their energy use.

Certainly, there’s s a long way to go, but it’s encouraging that the wheels are beginning to turn. “We’ve barely started,” one researcher told the Times.

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