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New York City is banning natural gas hookups for new buildings to fight climate change

KEY POINTS

  • The New York City Council on Wednesday voted to pass legislation banning the use of natural gas in most new buildings.

  • Under the law, construction projects submitted for approval after 2027 must use sources like electricity for stoves, space heaters and water boilers instead of gas or oil.

  • The bill would cut about 2.1 million tons of carbon emissions by 2040, equivalent to the annual emissions of 450,000 cars, according to a study by the think tank RMI.

It’s Time to Incentivize Residential Heat Pumps

The United States has made significant progress decarbonizing the electricity sector in recent years, and as the grid continues to get cleaner, cities and states are turning their attention to other sectors, such as direct fossil fuel use in buildings. The use of gas or fuel oil for heating, hot water, and cooking accounts for more than 10 percent of US carbon emissions. All-electric building policies, which promote the use of electric appliances instead of fossil fuels, have gained traction from California to Massachusetts, and policymakers everywhere are paying attention. 

States with ambitious climate change goals must address direct building emissions, but does electrification make sense everywhere at this moment? Can electric appliances reduce carbon emissions even in cold climates?

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Study shows success of New York City's Clean Heat Program

In 2012, New York City established the Clean Heat Program to eliminate the use of residual heating oil which had been identified as a major source of air pollution in the City and linked to multiple adverse health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease. In a study conducted at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health with colleagues at Drexel University, researchers evaluated the program outcomes, including the air pollution reductions between 2012 and 2016, using multiple data sources and rigorous model diagnostics.

Clean heat for New York City

Soot pollution in New York City once caused more than 3,000 deaths every year from lung and heart disease.

In 2008, EDF performed a study showing that buildings burning the two dirtiest heating oils create more soot than all the City's cars and trucks combined.

Switching to cleaner heating fuels is the largest step we can take to cut this pollution.

NYC Clean Heat provided free resources to buildings to help them convert to cleaner heating fuel in the most cost-effective and efficient way. Now, the NYC Retrofit Accelerator continues that work, as well as helping buildings with energy efficiency.

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N.Y.C.’s Gas Ban Takes Fight Against Climate Change to the Kitchen

New York City will ban gas-powered heaters, stoves and water boilers in all new buildings, a move that will significantly affect real estate development and construction in the nation’s largest city and could influence how cities around the world seek to reduce the burning of fossil fuels, which drives climate change.

The City Council on Wednesday approved a bill banning gas hookups in new buildings — effectively requiring all-electric heating and cooking — after what council members and lobbying groups described as weeks of intense negotiations. The ban takes effect in December 2023 for buildings under seven stories; for taller buildings, developers negotiated a delay until 2027.

Protecting Building Occupants Against the Inhalation of Outdoor-Origin Aerosols

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Hello Greener Comfort

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EFFICIENCY CAN CUT U.S. ENERGY USE AND GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS IN HALF BY 2050

October 23, 2019

Improved energy efficiency can make a big contribution to U.S. efforts toward dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The report, “Halfway There: Energy Efficiency Can Cut Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Half by 2050,” determined that major energy savings could be attained by a combination of measures, including moving to electric vehicles, strategically managing industrial energy use and decarbonization, improving aviation efficiency, upgrading existing commercial buildings and homes, better designing new buildings, and improving appliance efficiency.

ACEEE’s analysts also note the role that collective individual action can play in improving energy efficiency and reducing the threat of climate change. By creating greater demand for energy-efficient cars, appliances and well-insulated homes, consumers can push industry to develop new, more innovative green technology.                                                                                      

According to the 63-page report, “if pursued aggressively” energy efficiency can reduce energy-related carbon emissions in the U.S. in 2050 by as much as 57% relative to current projections. This could put the country a lot closer to the goals of the White House’s 2016 strategy for deep decarbonization, which aims for an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2050.

In coordination with other efforts to cut emissions, energy efficiency has huge implications for lowering U.S. contributions to global climate change. But this does not have to be the sole reason for such change. ACEEE also estimates dramatic reductions in energy use will save US$700 billion by 2050’s economic standards.