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. In as a business as usual scenario, electricity primarily comes from coal and gas.
  • Research and development into various electric motors and systems than 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 power building and industry notice that natural gas (blue line) and coal (brown line) move down in the “Sources of Final Energy Consumption” 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.
  • Electricity bills for households, businesses, and governments are lower.
  • 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 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

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

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 and increases use of coal, natural gas, and renewables in electricity generation.