New report: By electrifying all its buildings, Florida could reap some of the highest health and climate benefits in the country
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida ranks 10th in the nation for potential reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report released by Environment Florida Research & Policy Center, Florida PIRG Education Fund, and Frontier Group. The study, Electric Buildings: Repowering Homes and Businesses for Our Health and Environment, found that completely repowering Florida’s homes and businesses with electricity by 2050 would result in net emissions reductions of 8.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide -- equal to taking more than 1.7 million cars off the road for one year. Going all-electric in our state’s buildings would help cut emissions, improve public health and protect the planet, the report concluded.
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.
“Floridians deserve to know that the systems that keep us cool, provide us with hot water and run our appliances aren’t producing dangerous emissions that threaten our safety both inside and outside of our homes,” said Ryann Lynn, climate and clean energy advocate with Environment Florida. “The possibilities we see in Florida should give us the hope and motivation we need to kickstart the movement towards 100 percent electric buildings.”
Despite the benefits of electrification, Florida communities may be on the verge of losing their freedom to transition off fossil fuels. Companion bills SB 1128 and HB 919 would restrict local government’s ability to limit any type of energy source in buildings and prevent them from going all-electric -- preempting that power entirely to the state government. This legislation is part of a larger strategy by special interest groups, including gas companies, who have backed at least 19 similar bills across the country over the past two years.
In addition to highlighting states that have the most to gain from banning fossil fuels in homes and businesses, the study also analyzes the potential national benefits from this change. Electrifying a majority of American homes and businesses by 2050 could reduce overall net emissions from America’s residential and commercial sectors by 306 million metric tons, which is equivalent to taking about 65 million cars off the road.
Electric Buildings also emphasizes the role such electric technologies as heat pumps, water heaters, and other electric appliances like induction stoves can play in moving 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.
“Last century, many families saw their quality of life improve when they switched from a coal-burning stove to an electric or gas range, or an icebox to an electric refrigerator,” said Lynn. “Today, a similar technological revolution is underway to replace fossil fuel air conditioning and cooking with electric technologies. Current electric heat pumps offer better indoor climate control and lower operating costs than gas furnaces and the sooner America makes the switch, the sooner we’ll realize the benefits of cleaner, healthier, and more efficient energy.”
Environment Florida works for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife, and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the state put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Environment Florida is part of Environment America, a national network of 29 state environmental groups.
The Florida Public Interest Research Group (Florida PIRG) is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in democratic society.
Environment Florida and Florida PIRG are part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.