Gassed Out — How Building Electrification Now Means a Healthy, Prosperous Menlo Park
In July 2020, Menlo Park adopted a new climate action plan (CAP) that included groundbreaking measures phasing out fossil fuel use throughout the city and prioritizing racial justice. This was the boldest climate commitment of any city in California, with a zero-carbon target by 2030 through a combination of 90% greenhouse gas reductions and 10% carbon removal.
In 2019, Menlo Park adopted innovative all-electric, clean construction standards for new homes and buildings that at least a dozen other cities have since adopted, starting a movement for zero carbon development. One of the plan’s most impactful strategies to dramatically reduce carbon pollution is phasing out methane gas use in homes & buildings. This switch from methane gas to electric can be achieved with clean, zero-emission heaters, water heaters and appliances as they are replaced.
Menlo Spark produced the Gassed Out — How Building Electrification Now Means a Healthy, Prosperous Menlo Park report to help the City of Menlo Park envision a positive pathway to accomplish the CAP target of a 95% transition from methane gas to electric homes and buildings by 2030. Switching from methane gas to electric has emerged as a pivotal strategy to address the climate crisis. It also makes our homes healthier, safer and more resilient. Key takeaways from the report include:
- Climate: Methane gas contributes almost 40% of the carbon pollution in Menlo Park.
- Health impacts: Burning methane gas inside our homes can cause serious illness and even be fatal. Children in homes with gas stoves are 42% more likely to develop asthma than those with electric stoves.
- Savings: Utility bills can be up to $800 per year less for all-electric homes than comparable homes that use fossil fuels.
- Equity: Electrification can be affordable for everyone in Menlo Park with the right mix of support programs and incentives.
The pathway to affordable & equitable electrification:
- Low-income households could receive assistance to fully electrify 1400 units (those on utility bill assistance) over the next 10 years, with an investment of $3 million per year.
- Moderate-income households should soon have access to easy and affordable financing for electric heating and appliances through Peninsula Clean Energy.
- More affluent households can access the generous rebates that together with market rate financing—as well as home solar systems—make electrification a money saver over time.
make the switch:
- Adopt a Reach Code 2.0 measure requiring electric heating and appliances for all projects seeking building permits; any new air conditioner installations should also include heating capability in addition to cooling.
- The City of Menlo Park could assist home- and building-owners making the switch through streamlined permitting, 24/7 technical support for all residents and contractors, expanding discount direct-install, support for electric cooling for low-income households that currently lack air conditioning, and community engagement.