Movement to wean neighborhoods off natural gas gains momentum

For years, cities have sought ways to reduce buildings’ reliance on fossil fuels, including bans on new gas-fired construction, policies requiring large buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over time, and commitments to decarbonize public buildings.

However, a new perspective on building decarbonisation is emerging among policymakers and climate advocates: neighbourhood-scale decarbonisation. This approach involves planning to transition entire neighbourhoods off the natural gas system in one fell swoop, either through electrification or the development of thermal power networks, which would allow the pipeline to be decommissioned.

Some of these projects are already underway in the United States, but they still present a learning curve for utilities and cities. Research and advocacy groups are publishing resources to help leaders understand why and how to get started with these projects, while some states are studying policies to encourage neighborhood-scale decarbonization.

Below is a collection of six Smart Cities Dive stories detailing the movement so far.