In July of 2019, Berkeley made history by completely banning the use of natural gas in their buildings starting 2020. Taking inspiration from this city, Menlo Park, California has taken the same steps and has banned natural gas in all new commercial, industrial and high-rise apartment buildings starting January 2020. Well, that’s a first! This decision is to be put in place on September 10th and other cities are also considering implementing a similar ban starting off a new trend.
Why are cities taking such steps on phasing out Natural gas? Coz last we heard natural gas is a cleaner alternative to coal. Well, the main reason seems to be that the use of renewables is more popular and cleaner on the environment, not to mention, cheaper!
Secondly, natural gas causes the decarbonisation of buildings. Buildings are estimated to generate around 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions and constitute 36% of global energy use. At the moment nearly two-thirds of global energy use comes from fossil fuels (which includes Natural gas) which are not at all sustainable.
In the U.S., 19% of total energy consumption comes from natural gas for commercial buildings and 24% of residential buildings. Since this is still a big portion of energy consumption, such steps must be taken to prevent the decarbonization of buildings directly affecting climate change.
Although, there are concerns regarding this move. The electrification and removal of natural gas will bring costs up on households as Natural gas is an affordable means of energy, especially households affected by poverty will not be able to pay high electricity bills. The costs for installations of retrofits are also especially high where all HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and water heating equipment needs to be replaced with electric alternatives.