New report: By electrifying all its buildings, Ohio could reap some of the highest health and climate benefits in the country
COLUMBUS -- Ohio ranks 5th 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 Ohio Research & Policy Center, Ohio PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. The study, Electric Buildings: Repowering Homes and Businesses for Our Health and Environment, found that completely repowering Ohio’s homes and businesses with electricity by 2050 would result in emissions reductions of 13.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide -- equal to taking 3 million cars off of the road -- and reduce pipeline gas usage by 404.1 billion cubic feet. Going all-electric in our state’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’s time to get rid of dirty, dangerous technologies and swap them out for efficient, electric ones to ensure that Ohioans live cleaner, greener and all around healthier lives. Ohioans deserve to know that the systems that keep us warm, provide us with hot water and run our appliances aren’t producing dangerous emissions that threaten our safety both inside and outside of our homes,” said Brynn Furey, energy conservation and efficiency associate with Environment Ohio. “The possibilities we see in Ohio should give us the hope and motivation we need to kickstart the movement towards 100 percent electric buildings.”
Despite the benefits of electrification, Ohio communities may be on the verge of losing their freedom to transition off fossil fuels. Twin bills House Bill 201 and Senate Bill 127 would restrict local government’s ability to limit gas use in buildings and prevent them from going all-electric -- preempting that power entirely to the state government. This legislation is part of a larger strategy by special interest groups, including gas companies, who have backed at least 19 similar bills across the country over the past two years.
“Our country has the tools we need to make our buildings fossil fuel-free and to take a vital step for reducing pollution and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change,” Furey said. “But if special interest groups have their way, many Ohioans will soon live in communities that want to electrify their homes and businesses to take advantage of clean energy, but can't because the industry has tied their hands behind their back.”
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 Columbus.
“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 Ohio makes the switch, the sooner we’ll realize the benefits of cleaner, healthier and more efficient energy.”
Environment Ohio works for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the state put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Environment Ohio is part of Environment America, a national network of 29 state environmental groups.
The Ohio Public Interest Research Group (Ohio PIRG) is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in democratic society.
Environment Ohio and Ohio PIRG are 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.