Green Building & Electrification

What is a “Green” Building?

While there are many different definitions of what a green building is, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, a green building is defined as:

A holistic concept that starts with the understanding that the built environment can have profound effects, both positive and negative, on the natural environment, as well as the people who inhabit buildings every day. Green building is an effort to amplify the positive and mitigate the negative of these effects throughout the entire life cycle of a building.

A green building is generally accepted as the planning, design, construction, and operations of buildings with several central, foremost considerations:

  • Energy use
  • Water use
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Material selection
  • The building's effects on its site

What is Electrification?

Building electrification, sometimes referred to as building decarbonization, refers to shifting the energy use in buildings from fossil fuels like natural gas to electricity. This generally involves replacing gas appliances such as gas water heaters and gas stoves with electric appliances such as heat pumps and induction stoves. Once all the appliances in the building utilize electricity, the building is referred to as an all-electric building. With natural gas used in buildings accounting for one-third of total greenhouse gas emissions in Fairfax, one of the most impactful ways to reduce those emissions is to electrify buildings by replacing any gas appliances.

Electrification is not the same as energy efficiency or energy conservation, which refer to reducing energy usage in a building through efficiency measures such as replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs. However, replacing gas appliances with electric appliances such as heat pumps can often reduce energy usage as well since these electric appliances are much more efficient than their gas counterparts.

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