Zero Net Gas: A Framework for Managing Gas Demand Reduction as a Pathway to Decarbonizing the Buildings Sector
To meet Paris Agreement greenhouse gas reduction targets, gas distribution utilities and the buildings they serve—residential, small commercial, and large commercial and industrial buildings—must fully decarbonize. This paper proposes a Zero Net Gas demand reduction framework to achieve decarbonization of the buildings sector. The Zero Net Gas Framework is a policy and regulatory pathway to start reversing gas dependence in buildings, towards deep decarbonization. The ZNG strategy posits that gas consumption must be capped in the near-term—and incrementally reduced where possible—by pairing new gas demand with reductions in existing inefficient gas use through demand-side measures, such as energy efficiency, heat pumps and renewable heating technologies such as solar thermal, non-pipe solutions, and demand response programs. The Framework focuses on reducing peak demand as a means of stopping gas infrastructure expansion, as well as reducing total gas usage in order to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. The Zero Net Gas Framework is the first step toward deep decarbonization: by providing a mechanism for states to halt the growth of gas, regulators and stakeholders establish a pathway to achieving mid-century climate and energy mandates without further investment in gas infrastructure and dependence.