Net GHG Emissions and Air Quality Outcomes from Different Residential Building Electrification Pathways within a California Disadvantaged Community

Eric Daniel Fournier, Felicia Federico, Robert Cudd, Stephanie Pincetl, Alex Ricklefs, Marc Costa, Michael Jerrett, Diane Garcia-Gonzales

Electrification of gas appliances in residential buildings will be necessary to rapidly decarbonize the energy system. In California however, recent rates of adoption of electric appliances, especially within disadvantaged and vulnerable communities (DVCs), have been insufficient to meet the state’s ambitious GHG emissions abatement targets. In this study we use an integrated assessment modeling framework to quantify the holistic benefits of different electrification pathways within a representative study area DVC. Results indicate that aggressive electrification retrofits can deliver significant net reductions in GHG emissions, even when future grid emissions from increased electric loads are factored in. We also find that these measures can also create significant net public health benefits, in terms of overall avoided impacts from particulate matter (PM-2.5μ) exposures. However, the realization of these net benefits requires tradeoffs between local improvements in air quality in the areas where electrification occurs, for smaller, but still significant, reductions in air quality, in areas where fossil fueled electricity generators remain active. We conclude with a discussion of some of the persistent barriers to electrification within DVCs and the import role of electrification within broader efforts to combat climate change and improve equity within the energy system.

Published Work | 2022 | Sustainable Cities and Society

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