Energize Denver has rolled out the Electrification Program for all commercial and multifamily buildings that will phase-in the electrification of space and water heating systems. Currently, when replacing gas heating systems or air conditioning units, Denver requires that building owners consider the heat pump/ electric alternative through an electrification feasibility report (EFR). As the phased approach continues, the heat pump/ electric alternative replacement will be required to be installed in some cases. Whether you are a Denver building owner, desire a sustainable building or reduced greenhouse gas production, it’s important to be aware of today’s typical electrification measures as well as the pros and cons.
The ideal electric alternative to gas burning equipment is a heat pump, where current heat pump technology is applicable. Heat pumps operate with 200-350% efficiency to reduce energy consumption and improve building performance. Although energy consumption is reduced, utility costs may remain neutral due to the higher cost of electricity (per unit of energy) compared to gas. Heat pumps can greatly reduce building energy use intensity (EUI) and help a building owner meet building performance targets. Although heat pumps are typically the more expensive option, available equipment rebates usually help offset this additional cost.
When replacing gas heating, DX cooling rooftop units (RTUs), the typical alternative is a dual fuel, heat pump RTU. These units utilize the heat pump in most heating scenarios while the gas burner is maintained for backup/ heating in extreme cold. These units do not require electrical service upgrades and offer the same physical fit.
When replacing split system air conditioning units, the typical alternative is a heat pump itself. These units will then be able to provide space heating to minimize the use of the associated air handling’s gas heat source (furnace, heating water, etc.).
When replacing gas water heaters, technology has advanced to offer an air-source heat pump capable of year-round domestic hot water production in cold climates. This option will require some additional components (e.g. heat exchanger and/ or storage tank), a new electrical feed, as well as the heat pump located outdoors.
Variable refrigerant flow/ volume (VRF or VRV) are heat pump systems capable of year-round space and water heating. These systems are ideal for retrofit when looking to completely remove gas heating sources and significantly improve building performance.
Electric resistive space and water heating is the traditional alternative to gas heating. It offers robust heating capabilities regardless of climate, but little efficiency improvements and additional utility costs compared to heat pumps. Electric boilers, water heaters and duct heaters require significant electrical power and may not be feasible with a building’s existing electrical service.
If you are considering electrifying equipment, or are subject to electrification requirements or just have additional questions, please reach out to your Haynes contact.
Energize Denver’s Electrification Requirements can be reviewed here: https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Agencies-Departments-Offices/Agencies-Departments-Offices-Directory/Climate-Action-Sustainability-Resiliency/High-Performance-Buildings-and-Homes/Energize-Denver-Electrification-Program/Equipment-Replacement-Code-Changes-in-2023-2025-and-2027
Energize Denver’s Electrification Rebates, EFRs and Resources can be found here: