imgBuildingsElecIcon Buildings and Industry - Electrification

Increase or decrease the use of electricity, instead of fuels like oil or gas, in buildings, appliances, heating systems, and other machines. Using electric motors only helps reduce emissions if the electricity is from low carbon sources like solar and wind.


  • Increase in public interest for replacing oil and gas heating furnaces in buildings with electric heating systems.
  • Research and development into various electric motors and systems that could enable wind and solar to replace oil and gas fired industrial facilities.

Big Message

  • Electrification of buildings and industry can help, particularly when renewable energy is already encouraged or fossil fuels are discouraged.

Key Dynamics

  • When there is more efficient electrical systems powering building and industries, notice that Natural Gas (dark blue line) and Coal (brown line) move down in the “Global Sources of Primary Energy” graph.

Potential Co-Benefits of Encouraging Electrification

  • Improved air quality at the source increases healthcare savings and worker productivity.
  • Eliminating demand for natural gas lines to buildings also eliminates the risks from fire and explosion.
  • Noise pollution from motor engines, generators, and furnaces is reduced.
  • Air quality for individuals working/living in and around the structures is improved, which increases healthcare savings and worker productivity.

Equity Considerations

  • The up-front capital costs of retrofitting buildings and heating systems to be entirely electric may not be accessible to lower income individuals and small businesses.
  • Exposure to household air pollution is unevenly distributed within and across countries, to which negative health effects and poverty are strongly correlated. [1]

Slider Settings

The variable being changed is the annual growth rate of electricity used in buildings and industry.

discouraged status quo incentivized highly incentivized
Annual rate -3% to -1% -1% to +1% +1% to +3% +3% to +5%

Model Structure

This input directly forces growth of electrification up toward a maximum percentage, unlike the inputs for energy sources, which change the financial attractiveness to drive future behavior.

This input affects climate outcomes through two pathways:

  1. Changing energy demand. The efficiency for electrified energy use is greater than for the direct burning of coal, oil, and gas.
  2. Changing fuel mix. Increased electrification decreases use of oil but then increases use of coal, natural gas, and renewables in electricity generation.

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[1]World Health Organization. (2018, May 7). Household air pollution: Health impacts.