Electrification

December 2019 Lynn Fritzlen

The Energy Technology and Building Science Sub-committee of AIANY COTE (American Institute of Architects New York Committee on the Environment) is now scheduling 2020 presentations.  Our chair Steven Winter has selected several topics, including Net Zero Buildings and Solar Strategies. As a follow up to the presentation I organized this year on VRF technology, I will be spearheading “Electrification”.

In 2014, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio committed to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 2005 levels by 2050 (80×50). The city estimates that to achieve 80×50, every building must reduce energy use by 40% to 60%. Over half of these buildings must also convert to high-efficiency electric heating, and more than 90% will need to electrify their domestic hot water. https://www.6sqft.com/de-blasio-releases-plan-for-new-york-city-to-follow-paris-climate-agreement/

Use of electric sources of power has become a goal of New York City for several reasons.   Electric is considered a clean source of energy because 1) it is potentially powered by renewable energy such as solar and wind 2) no carbon emissions 3) its distribution is not susceptible to gas leaks and explosions.

Electric and natural gas both lose capacity during transmission. Depending on the source and the configuration, 2% to 10% is lost in transmission, with gas delivery tending to be more efficient. The real difference in energy loss, is at the power plant. Electrical plants fueled by fossil fuels lose up to 2/3rds when converting from raw material to electricity. http://insideenergy.org/2015/11/06/lost-in-transmission-how-much-electricity-disappears-between-a-power-plant-and-your-plug/

NYC has historically depended on fossil fuels to power boilers, heating plants and cooking appliances. Converting these devices to electric will introduce new demands on the grid and require rethinking how NYC buildings are heated and powered.

Where is the sweet spot for optimizing energy usage and conserving our natural resources? What will the electrification of NYC look like? We will explore these topics with public officials and seasoned design professionals in a panel forum.  

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