Building Electrification Initiative

The Building Electrification Initiative envisions a world where we no longer burn fossil fuels in our buildings. As a result, we will have cleaner air, safer and more affordable housing, and healthier, more livable communities. With this transition, we will ensure that we create good local jobs for those who need them most and that we equitably share the benefits of transitioning away from fossil fuels across all communities.



of a typical residential building's energy use comes from burning fossil fuels to create heat and hot water

Up to 40%

Of greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. Cities come from providing heat and hot water to buildings

The Problem

In many North American cities, burning fossil fuels—typically oil or gas—to provide heating, cooling, and hot water in buildings can be a significant source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. For a typical residential building, fossil fuels can account for 50-75% of building energy use and emissions. In cities with colder climates, fossil fuel use in buildings can account for 40% or more of total citywide emissions.


The Solution

Minimizing the use of fossil fuels is critical to averting the worst impacts of climate change. Fossil fuel-based building systems, such as boilers and furnaces, must be phased out and replaced with clean and renewable energy sources. High-efficiency electric air source heat pumps and heat pump water heaters offer a cleaner alternative to typical oil- and gas-fired building systems. These technologies use electricity, which can be increasingly powered by renewable energy, instead of fossil fuels to provide heat. They also provide high-efficiency cooling for buildings, which is another key benefit as cities face increasingly extreme heat due to climate change.


A Market Transformation Led by Cities

The Building Electrification Initiative builds on the work of leading cities, supported by the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, to pilot strategies to scale up the electrification of building heating and cooling systems. Over the past four years, a growing number of cities have become active in this work to transform their local and regional building markets.

Eight pioneering cities have led the way as participants in the Building Electrification Initiative. Additional cities will be added in the coming years.