Highlights of Recent Building Electrification Webinars

By Steve and Pat Miller • NJ 50 x 30 BE Team

The NJ 50x30 Building Electrification Team hosts regular talks on reducing your building’s energy consumption and lowering emissions. Below, we’ve highlighted three webinars that include tips and examples for achieving these goals. To help you find them in the online list of webinar recordings and slides (https://qrd.by/y8noi1), each is indexed according to the date it occurred. You can also sign up for webinar announcement emails.

2022-11-17 Bob Morrow summarizes the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which is estimated to reduce US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions up to 40% by 2030. It provides for individual tax credits up to $22,000 (available now) and rebates up to $14,000 (when the NJ process is defined and approved sometime in 2023-2024).

The IRA relies on carrots (no sticks) to cut emissions by giving money to homeowners, renters, state/local governments, and businesses. Morrow states, “We are counting on people and institutions…to actually eat the carrot.” He demonstrated an online calculator for viewing individual benefits.

Pat and Steve Miller describe the path toward net zero emissions for their own home and their church. The path begins, for all buildings, with an energy audit, and then continues with recommended changes to use less energy.


The following Big Three will eliminate almost 90% of GHG emissions: Choose a heat pump when replacing an air conditioner, furnace, or water heater; buy a hybrid or electric vehicle (EV) when replacing a car; and prioritize use of renewable electricity. Home solar panels produce the highest return, community solar reduces utility electric bills by 21%, and third-party wind/solar is available but currently costly.

Case Example

A church’s 20-year journey of GHG reduction is detailed, and homeowners can follow a similar journey. The initial 18 years included many projects, including insulating and switching to more energy-efficient lights and appliances (such as an electric heat pump vs a gas water heater). These efforts reduced GHG 49%, from 70 tons in 2003 to 36 tons in 2019.

The last three years have been a game-changer. The church switched six gas furnaces to electric heat pumps with gas as backup. Then, rooftop solar was installed to power most of the church’s electric load, including the heat pumps.

Using 2019 as a baseline, projected 2023 savings are impressive: Electric and gas bills will decline 65% and GHG emissions will decline 58% to 15 tons per year. Viewers are invited to follow this example and are encouraged to practice “drawdown” principles to reduce their remaining GHG. Most drawdown actions don’t require a big lifestyle change, and they improve your quality of life.

2022-12-15: Matt Kavanagh details a step-by-step plan and presents 4-year results of energy transformation and decarbonization at his home. He states, “What we need to accomplish across society and across the world to mitigate the risks of climate change… requires everybody’s actions.” Kavanagh installed a ground source heat pump, solar roof, energy storage, and amped-up insulation. He also purchased two hybrid EV vehicles.

Kavanagh achieved a greater than 80% reduction in gross energy and a zero-carbon footprint. His cash flow turned positive flow after 5.5 years with a 6% annual return on investment (ROI; 54% total ROI) and $25,000 in additional rebates. Remarkably, this high return was possible even before the passage of the IRA, which will dramatically increase ROI for others.

Kavanagh (and his consulting company) have gained wisdom and are available to help those who need information or assistance to follow his footsteps!

2023-1-19: Ken Levenson, executive director of Passive House Network, describes “The Five Principles of Passive House.” These principles can be incorporated into any type of building, from the smallest house to the largest commercial building.

Levenson states, “Passive House is the world’s most rigorous building standard. It really implicates business-as-usual practices and forces us to make high-quality architectural enclosures.” Buildings are insulated to provide maximum thermal retention with minimal heating or cooling. Fresh air is filtered in, and stale air is exhausted through heat recovery units. New passive construction costs only a few percent more than standard construction.

The Five Key Principles for New Construction and Building Rehab

1. Climate-specific, continuous insulation. Insulation thickness is designed to meet the temperature range of the location, and there are no gaps in it, under, around, or above.

2. Airtightness. This protects against wind, outdoor pollution, and noise.

3. Thermal bridge-free connections. No heat escapes through intersections of building enclosure elements, such as wall to attic, or wall to foundation.

4. High-performance windows and doors with solar protection. This protects against solar heat gain.

5. High efficiency heat recovery ventilation. Ventilation adds to the healthiness of inside air and reduces allergies and asthma. Only the incoming ventilated air needs to be heated or cooled.

Result: 90% reduction in operational energy and zero carbon emissions from fossil fuel.

Pat and Steve Miller are co-founders of the NJ 50x30 Building Electrification Team. Steve Miller is the NJ Sierra Club Building Electrification Issues Coordinator. Email the authors at stevemiller@comcast.net and patmiller@comcast.net.


Webinar recordings, slides, and sign-up: https://qrd.by/y8noi1

IRA Benefit Calculator: https://bit.ly/3YmrG3F

Drawdown principles: https://bit.ly/3l3zHw1