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ICAST Experts Weigh In: Don’t-Miss Decarbonization Updates from 2022 

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ICAST Experts Weigh In: Don’t-Miss Decarbonization Updates from 2022  

Ryan Kristoff | Director of Business Development 

Mr. Kristoff grows the organization by securing the funding and partnerships necessary to build new programs, expand to new geographies, and add services to its one-stop shop.

Before we turn all our attention to 2023 and the feeding frenzy created by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), there are a few developments to highlight from the year before. For starters, we see a significant shift on gas appliances. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of housing on health has been under the microscope. Gas usage contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and can exacerbate health hazards like poor indoor air quality. Still, it is historically much cheaper than electricity, making it challenging to motivate communities to electrify. This is especially true in the lower-income communities ICAST serves. However, in 2022, we were inundated with warnings about volatile gas prices and saw a growing awareness of the health risks. As reported by Rocky Mountain Institute, the American Public Health Association (APHA) became the first U.S. public health organization to declare gas cooking as a public health concern. APHA followed in the footsteps of medical organizations, including the American Medical Association.

The need to electrify existing homes and businesses is particularly acute. New construction has been well ahead because it is technically, logistically, and financially simpler to build all-electric than to tackle potential infrastructure upgrades and fuel switch costs (for example, gas-to-electric) in the retrofit market. However, last year there was growing momentum at the local, state, and federal levels to equitably decarbonize buildings. There is more money than ever before for retrofits. And now, for the first time, there are program-related goals to transform the nation’s energy grid and make it more reliable, which is crucial as electrification picks up. Communities across the U.S. are all too familiar with the consequences of grid failures due to climate-related incidents, such as fires and deep freezes. Without real action, they will only become more vulnerable as electrification strains the grid’s capacity.

Where does ICAST fit in? In 2022, we worked with partners to launch programs in New Mexico and Connecticut that will help families improve their homes’ health, energy efficiency, and affordability. We received an award from the U.S. Dept. of Energy to demonstrate how states can increase weatherization services for affordable multifamily housing. We helped kick off a training program in Colorado that will provide high-efficiency heat pump upskilling to local contractors. In 2023, we’ll have all hands on deck to take advantage of IRA and BIL funds to create even more triple-bottom-line benefits for communities.

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