Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Building Decarbonization

Updated: 7/13/22

How does building decarbonization help us reach our climate goals?

With AMP’s 100% clean energy, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the quality of living by transitioning to all-electric buildings. The use of gas appliances in buildings for water heating, cooking, space heating and clothes drying accounts for 27% of emissions in the City. By switching to energy efficient, all electric buildings, we can eliminate 27% of citywide emissions. 

What does 100% clean energy mean and where is the electricity coming from?

AMP sources its electricity from a mix of clean energy sources such as geothermal, hydroelectric, wind and landfill gas. These sources of energy are renewable and has little to no carbon emissions.

Learn more about AMP’s energy mix from the Power Content Label

I thought that natural gas is clean and safe, why is the City switching to electric?

Natural gas is cleaner and safer compared to burning coal and petroleum, which produces more air pollutants and emissions than natural gas. However, AMP now provides 100% clean energy from a variety of sources including wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric that are renewable and have little to no carbon emissions. Natural gas on the other hand, still emits pollutants such as methane, which is 86 times stronger than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and is harmful to our health. 

What is the difference between building decarbonization and building electrification?

Oftentimes, these two terms are used interchangeably and do often mean the same thing. Building decarbonization focuses on the carbon free aspect of an all-electric building running on clean electric energy, while building electrification focuses on the transition away from gas appliances in the buildings to all-electric buildings.

What are the benefits of building decarbonization in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Health: Gas appliances emit indoor pollutants and increase risk of respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, and other long-term illness. Children living in homes with gas stoves are 42% more likely to develop asthma. Sealing building envelops helps maintain the building at desired temperatures with less energy use, increasing comfort.

Safety & Resilience: Removing gas infrastructure reduces the risk of fires in the event of an earthquake. Electrical service is also expected to return faster than gas service post disaster. Induction cooktops reduce burn risk, and many automatically turn off when not in use, eliminating a leading cause of house fires.

I just bought a new gas stove/ water heater/ furnace/ clothes dryer, does this Plan require me to replaced it by a certain date?

No, the Equitable Building Decarbonization Plan includes recommendations for policies and programs that will help transition to electric appliances, but does not propose removing existing appliances that have not reached the end of their useful life or are not part of another permitted renovation project. Each of the proposed policies and programs in the Plan will require research, evaluation and include opportunities for public comment and participation throughout their development, as well as City Council and/or Public Utility Board approval for implementation.

What are the electric appliances that can replace my existing natural gas-powered appliances?

  • Induction cooktop/stove can replace a gas cooktop/stove
  • Heat pump water heater replaces traditional gas water heater tanks.
  • Heat pump heating and cooling replaces gas furnace and provides air conditioning.
  • Electric clothes dryers or combination washer and dryers can replace gas clothes dryers.

Learn more about these electric alternatives on Sustainable Home: Building Electrification

What is a heat pump?

Heat pump technology provides an efficient alternative to electric coil heating or gas heating. It uses electricity to move heat between the air, water and ground rather than generating heat. One heat pump appliance that you are already familiar with is your refrigerator. It moves heat outside your refrigerator so that the inside is cold for your food. Likewise, in space heating and cooling and water heating, heat pumps transfer heat from one place to another.

Would being all electric make my home less resilient due to grid reliability or as we experience public safety shut off events?

No – going all electric will actually improve resilience in your home as removing gas infrastructure reduces the risk of fires in the event of an earthquake. Electrical service is also expected to return faster than gas service post disaster.

In the event of a power outage, many modern-day natural gas appliances will also not work as they requires electricity to run fans, motors and electronic ignitions.

AMP’s electric grid is reliable and has two redundant electricity lines feeding in power from PG&E. Each of those lines are capable of handling electricity demand for the entire City which can help reduce the likelihood of long power outages. AMP has also forecasted additional load from building electrification and is confident in their capacity to accommodate additional projected load.

Does the City have, or plan to have, a list of available electricians/ contractors who can help me with energy efficiency and converting to all electric?

No, there are other organizations that are developing and maintaining contractors lists. You can find them at https://www.bayren.org/find-contractor and https://switchison.cleanenergyconnection.org/

 

Are induction stoves and electric heat pump appliances such as dryers, water heaters and furnaces readily available in the Bay Area? Who carries them in the local area?

Yes, many of these appliances are already on the market and available at Home Depot or Lowes. More will be coming in the near future.