Energy meters

Research Project | 2022

Equitable Electrification of Existing Buildings: A Pathway to Decarbonization

What’s involved when someone wants to electrify an existing home or multi-family building? Often times, a homeowner or landlord experiences unexpected complications when trying to retrofit their building. This study will assess the equity implications and costs of electrification for priority populations living and working in existing buildings.

The first objective is to examine California’s building electrification trends to date across several geographic and demographic dimensions, including single and multi-unit dwellings, and small commercial buildings, in order to describe the gap between existing policy-supported electrification and the State’s long-term goals. This characterization will be done through a broad compilation and analysis of statewide spatial data layers related to electrification and equity considerations.

The second objective of this study is to address the gaps in knowledge related to building decarbonization. There are two main barriers to electrification that have not been adequately studied, these are the need to upgrade electric service panel capacity and limited consumer awareness and understanding about what building decarbonization means. Therefore, the primary data collection and analysis component of this study will focus on electric service panels and opinion research. Using machine learning and building permit data, this project will examine the scale of the challenges associated with electrical service panel upgrades to support full electrification retrofits in older buildings. Additionally, this project will conduct opinion research focused on priority population’s values, knowledge, and beliefs around building electrification decisions.

Based on study results, the Project Team will develop policy recommendations. Results of this project will inform the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and other policymakers’ efforts to align incentives, regulations, and other complementary policies to support rapid and equitable building decarbonization.