New report shows how electrifying Maryland’s buildings could cut carbon emissions and transform our energy system

Maryland has the ability to make a big cut to damaging fossil fuel use in homes and offices
For Immediate Release

BALTIMORE -- Maryland could see a critical reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and gas usage if it electrifies all of its buildings during the next 30 years, according to a new report released today by Environment Maryland, Maryland PIRG and Frontier Group. The study, Electric Buildings: Repowering Homes and Businesses for Our Health and Environment, found that completely repowering Maryland’s homes and businesses with electricity by 2050 is expected to result in emissions reductions equal to taking more than 1 million cars off the road.

According to the report, in 2017 20% of Maryland’s carbon emissions came from homes and businesses. The report also outlines how overcoming key barriers standing in the way of widespread building electrification can improve public health and play a key role in fighting climate change.

“It has never been easier to make our homes and businesses fossil fuel free and Maryland could see important environmental and health gains by going all-electric,” said Mariah MacKenzie, Campaign Associate with Environment Maryland. “The possibilities we see in Maryland should give us the hope and motivation we need to kickstart the movement towards 100 percent electric buildings.”

This report comes at the same time as Maryland state legislators debate policy to curb emissions and implement new energy conservation standards for Maryland’s buildings. The Climate Solutions Now Act increases the statewide emissions reduction requirement to 60% from 2006 levels by 2030 and to net zero by 2045. The bill has already moved through the Maryland Senate, but last week a House of Delegates subcommittee proposed revisions to the bill that remove provisions that specified goals for emissions reductions in homes and businesses.

“From explosions to toxic emissions, burning fossil fuels to keep us warm, cook and clean is inherently dangerous to our health and communities,” explained Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr. “Fortunately we now have cleaner, safer options to power our homes.”

According to the report, electrifying Maryland homes and businesses by 2050 could reduce emissions from the residential and commercial sectors by 4.8 million metric tons, which is equivalent to taking about 1 million cars off the road. If Maryland moved to all electric buildings by 2050, the state would see a reduction in pipeline gas usage equal to 104.9 billion cubic feet which is the amount of gas used to heat 1.9 million mid-Atlantic homes in 2015.

In addition to state-specific data, the study identifies the benefits from banning fossil fuels in homes and businesses. The report sites a recent study that looked at five major urban areas on the East Coast, including Baltimore, and found these urban areas emit more than twice the amount of methane previously estimated by the EPA, with most of these emissions coming from leaks of gas systems in homes and businesses, as opposed to natural sources or landfills. 

In its annual report, the Maryland Commission on Climate Change recommended that 50 percent of space heating equipment sales be electric heat pumps by 2025. The commission also recommended that the Maryland Building Codes Administration require new construction to be all-electric for single-family homes by 2025, commercial buildings by 2026 and public buildings as soon as possible.

“If Maryland is serious about addressing air and water pollution and avoiding the worst effects of global warming, we must stop burning fossil fuels in our homes and businesses,” said MacKenzie.

Electric Buildings also emphasizes the role such electric technologies as heat pumps, water heaters and other electric appliances like induction stoves can play as Maryland, and the country, move away from fossil fuels. Advances in electrifying these technologies have made them more efficient and affordable. This means that using fully electric systems in homes and commercial buildings now makes sense for owners in almost all instances of new construction. 

“More than a century ago, many Marylanders saw their quality of life improve when they switched from a coal-burning stove to a gas range,” Scarr said. “Today, a similar technological shift is underway to replace fossil fuel heating and cooking with electric equipment that is cleaner and more efficient.

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Environment Maryland is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. 

Maryland PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful interests that threaten our health, safety, and wellbeing.