In this issue of Building Decarb Central, we look at some of the critical discussions and findings from NEEP’s recent 2019 Air Source Heat Pump Market Transformation Workshop in Woburn, Massachusetts. The two-day event drew about 150 people from all over the U.S. and Canada who focused on building the market to provide low-carbon space heating for buildings.
There is a broad array of heating and cooling system types available in the market that can effectively either decarbonize or electrify (with an increasingly decarbonized grid) building space heating. Some of the newer ones, at least for the U.S. market, were discussed at the NEEP air source heat pump workshop.
Retrofitting homes and buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a big but necessary task for Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States and cities committed to climate stabilization goals.
Natural gas creates carbon dioxide when we burn it to heat buildings and water. But it also leaks methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere when it does not make it all the way to our furnaces and water heaters. Older natural gas lines are more likely to leak. Sometimes the leaks get to explosive levels and make the evening news, but on a regular basis there are smaller leaks that emit methane into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.
As I expected, my water heater finally sprung a leak. The water heater was here when I bought my home almost 25 years ago, and it looked old then. The plumber who put in the new one said he had only ever seen two other water heaters this old, and thought it might even be original to the house, i.e. installed in 1965. I have been expecting it to fail for 25 years. It finally did.
In 2018, NEEP developed an Action Plan to Accelerate Strategic Electrification in the Northeast. The plan came out of an extensive process that included an ongoing steering committee, the production of a regional resource assessment, and a two day conference with over 100 people.
Energy and Environmental Economics (E3), a California based consultancy, has taken a detailed look at the economics of electrification on behalf of three California utilities. The results show that: “All new construction homes and the majority (84 percent) of existing single-family homes with A/C would save by going all-electric.” For homes with air conditioning, the efficiency of advanced heat pumps leads to bill savings that outweigh higher initial costs.
This blog was written by Mark Kresowik of Sierra Club, a Building Decarb Central partner, and represents the organization's work and approach. Building Decarb Central is meant to share different perspectives on the topic of building decarbonization. This blog is part of that dialogue.
The market of buying and selling homes is evolving, with consumers mindful of sustainability and the environment. At the same time, our homes are evolving and new technologies and practices are becoming increasingly prevalent in the real estate market. These technologies and practices make a home far more energy efficient than the housing stock to which we are accustomed.