Gas vs. electric? Fuel choice affects efforts to achieve low-energy and low-impact homes | 7/1/2014 | Staff
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If you want to make your home as energy-efficient and green as possible, should you use gas or electric for your heating and cooling needs? Gas is the more eco-friendly option—for now—for an energy-efficient home in Maryland. That's the conclusion of a new economic study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which evaluated the power usage and environmental impact of gas versus electric heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in low-energy residential dwellings. The NIST work provides a research method that others can use to perform their own analysis on which technology is more favorable for their local areas.

"Fuel type is an important factor because heating and cooling accounts for a significant amount of home energy consumption," said NIST civil engineer David Webb, one of the authors of the new study, published in the Journal of Building Engineering. "However, little research has been conducted looking at the impact of which fuel source is used, gas or electric, on achieving low-energy and low-impact goals. We used a unique NIST tool set of databases and software known as BIRDS [Building Industry Reporting and Design for Sustainability] to assess and measure that impact scientifically, and then provide a research method for others to do the same for any climate region in the United States."

Debut - Professionals - BIRDS - Sustainability - Materials

Since its debut in 2014, building professionals have used BIRDS to evaluate and measure the sustainability of both the materials and energy used by a building throughout its lifetime. Using computer models derived from BIRDS data, architects, structural engineers, construction managers and other homebuilding stakeholders can make science-based, cost-effective decisions on how to create and maintain high-performance, green, and low- or net-zero energy residences.

The new gas-versus-electric fuel source study uses data found in one of the three databases making up the latest version of BIRDS (v4.0),...
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