Studying the Path to Zero Carbon Homes in DC

Since 2012 the DCSEU helped prevent more than 6.2 million tons of lifetime greenhouse gas emissions through our energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and services.

In 2019, the District of Columbia set ambitious climate goals as part the DC Clean Energy Omnibus Act. One of these goals is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50% by 2032, and to reach carbon neutrality by the year 2050. While the DCSEU’s work has had a significant impact on GHG emissions – since 2012 we’ve helped prevent more than 6.2 million tons of lifetime greenhouse gas emissions through our energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and services – the pathway for reducing or eliminating GHG emissions may look different than how we reduce electricity and natural gas consumption.

In the Fall of 2019, the DC chapter of the Sierra Club approached the Department of Energy and Environment and the DCSEU to discuss how we could study “decarbonizing” residential buildings in the District by eliminating oil or natural gas systems and appliances.

"DCSEU has done excellent work to reduce energy use in DC," said Mark Rodeffer, an executive committee member and former chair of the Sierra Club DC Chapter. "As we plan to meet DC's climate commitment of carbon neutrality by 2050, we must continue to reduce energy use through efficiency, but we must also transition away from dirty fuels and move toward a clean energy economy. The Sierra Club is excited DCSEU is taking a step in that direction.”

In October 2019, the DCSEU brought together representatives from DOEE, the Sierra Club, and the contracting community to discuss the benefits and challenges we might face in developing a program to “decarbonize” single-family homes in the District. Based on the feedback from this roundtable, the DCSEU began designing a pilot program, the Low-Income Decarbonization Pilot. In partnership with DOEE, the DCSEU will seek to reduce the carbon emissions of approximately 15 income-qualified single-family homes by incorporating solar PV systems through the Solar for All program while also replacing natural gas or oil systems with electric systems in each home. In February, the DCSEU released a request for proposals (RFP) seeking Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) contractors to work on the pilot program. The work performed on each home will be at no cost to the resident and could include:

  1. Replacement of natural gas or fuel oil heating systems with electric air-source heat pumps
  2. Weatherization and airsealing of the home
  3. Installation of LED lighting and smart thermostat
  4. If funding is available, replacement of other fossil-fuel burning systems with electric systems, including:
    • Hot water heater
    • Gas stove/range/oven
    • Gas-powered clothes dryer
  5. Installation of solar onsite or community solar credits through the Solar for All program

After completion of the pilot, which will include third-party quality assurance inspections, the DCSEU will issue a report to provide feedback on the benefits, challenges, and costs to implement these measures in District homes.

For questions about this program, or if you would be interested in participating in future decarbonization efforts for your home, please contact the DCSEU.

Blog Categories:

residential, sustainable dc, heating

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Jahmai Sharp
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