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Why Should Building Owners Consider Electrification as a Sustainability Strategy?

By Andrew Lehrer, PE, LEED AP

Using electricity in lieu of natural gas can position a facility to reduce its on-site operational carbon footprint over time. That is especially true as utility sources such as wind and photovoltaic reach cost parity with coal and natural gas making the grid profile more renewable each year.

Driven in part by market pressure for electrification, there have been recent advances in heat pump technology allowing buildings in colder climates to leverage the refrigeration cycle to more efficiently heat their facilities, resulting in efficiencies 1.5 to 3 times that of electric resistance heat.

However, it is important to understand that heat pump technology is not a “drop-in” replacement for gas-fired heat. Currently, designers need to provide more space for the equipment and additional site electrical capacity for the heat pumps and backup heat.

And while natural gas prices have been steadily decreasing over the past six months, some energy-market experts believe that may not last. Transparent Energy offers advice in an upcoming webinar, “Learn Why Procuring Your Power This Spring  Could Help You Avoid Impending Large Price Increases.”

With price uncertainty, now could also be the time to consider building electrification options as part of an organization’s overall emissions reductions and climate plan. Buildings are still one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions. With the increase in corporate climate pledges, market differentiation is critical to attracting top talent and tenants and retaining them at your facility.

Modifications to SEC reporting guidelines that were released in March 2022 have mandated that publicly traded companies report their Scope 1 and 2 emissions on a phased schedule over the next several years. As the next generation of employees occupies the landscape, they are demanding additional transparency and firm commitments to their employer’s climate strategies. Building electrification is an important part of achieving those goals.

Andrew Lehrer freely shares his industry experience and ideas as part of fulfilling ESD’s mission to improve society through the built environment.

For more information on how our engineers can help with your project, reach out to ESD’s High Performance Buildings Engineering team.

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