Something remarkable is happening on the Peninsula. In recent months, a coalition of more than 100 individuals from 29 nonprofit organizations in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, including CEC, has persuaded 13 local cities to avoid natural gas in new construction. Our local cities are at the forefront of this movement, and other cities across the country are beginning to follow suit.
Why avoid natural gas in new construction? It’s one of the fastest and most effective ways we can combat climate change. Building and construction are responsible for about 40 percent of all carbon emissions. Getting rid of natural gas is also better for you because:
- Natural gas is dirty. It’s a fossil fuel that is commonly extracted by fracking, which pollutes air and water and creates seismic hazards.
- It’s dangerous for you and your home. Natural gas is responsible for almost half of all residential fires in the U.S. And did you know that indoor pollution from appliances such as gas stoves can easily cause air pollution levels that would be illegal outdoors? Studies show natural gas contributes to asthma and other respiratory problems.
- Aging gas pipelines leak hazardous gases, including methane, which has warmed the planet 80 times as much as CO2 has in just two decades.
Other benefits include:
- All-electric construction is less expensive. The average newly built single-family house in our climate zone will save more than $5,000 over the lifetime of the equipment by going all-electric instead of utilizing natural gas. In addition, in California developers save an average of $3,300 per unit in multi-family construction costs by avoiding natural gas use. When California’s requirement of 100 percent carbon-free electricity takes effect in 2045, it will cost far more to retrofit these homes than to build all-electric now.
- Electric cooking offers more control.Induction cooktops heat and cool faster, are cleaner and safer because they are cool to the touch (only the pan heats up). Professional chefs at many restaurants, including The French Laundry, now prefer them. These are not the electric stoves of years ago with slow-to-heat, dangerous coils.
- All-electric buildings are resilient. When electricity was restored in Sonoma County after a two-day blackout last fall, all-electric homes and businesses had lighting, hot water and heat right away, while stores and restaurants that depended on gas had lighting but remained closed – some as long as a week – while they waited for PG&E to stop by to ignite pilot lights.
- We’re on the way to power self-sufficiency. Huge investments are now being made in battery and solar energy storage, as well as microgrids that will allow people to live off the grid – and create lots of new jobs.
We have a climate emergency. The technology is available to deal with it. Please join CEC in embracing all-electric construction that leads the way to a cleaner, greener future.