Regional Propane and Woodburning Utilization in Commercial and Residential Buildings across California
- Sustainable Communities & Climate Protection Program
- Sustainable Communities
- Policy & Research Briefs
- Project Solicitation
- Pre-Proposal FAQs
- Technical Feasibility, Cost-effectiveness, and Policy Strategies for Reducing Embodied Carbon in Building Materials
- White Paper: Toxic Air Contaminant Emissions from Fossil Gas Appliances in California
- Regional Propane and Woodburning Utilization in Commercial and Residential Buildings across California
- Impacts of Telecommuting and Remote Services on Transportation, Land Use, And Climate Change
- Sustainable Communities Strategies Evaluation Process Update
- Guidance and Best Practices for Development of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Vehicle Miles Traveled Mitigation Banks or Exchanges
- Developing an Equity Evaluation Framework for Place-Based, Community-Scale Mobility Investments
- Evaluate the Potential Quantification of Community Garden Project Benefits
- Quantification Methodology Development for Air Filtration, Microgrid, and Electric Bicycle Incentive Projects
- Regional Plans & Evaluations
- Regional Plan Targets
- SB 150 Data Dashboard
- Active Transportation
The objectives of this study are to:
- With a focus on propane, examine the utilization of propane and woodburning in commercial and residential buildings across California communities;
- Assess potential solutions to electrification barriers for propane and woodburning users across multiple dimensions, such as technical feasibility, cost, community acceptance, time, and other parameters by region or community type.
In the context of this study, electrification refers to switching from propane and wood fueled appliances to zero-emission ones, mainly powered by electricity either through a direct connection to the electric grid, a microgrid, a distributed energy resources, etc.
Commercial and residential buildings are responsible for approximately 10 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) and 5 percent of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions in California due to onsite fossil gas combustion. Because efficient building electrification provides one of the most technologically feasible paths to reduce building-related emissions, this study is focused on electrification. Building electrification is one of many building decarbonization strategies to reduce building emissions, which also include maximizing energy efficiency, use of low- and zero-carbon electricity, demand flexibility, energy storage, and use of very low- or no-global warming potential refrigerants and refrigerant emission leak reduction, among other actions.
CARB is developing zero-emission appliance standards in alignment with California’s climate and air quality strategy as laid out in the 2022 Scoping Plan adopted in December 2022 and the 2022 State Strategy for the State Implementation Plan adopted in September 2022. As part of this effort, CARB staff is undertaking a regional assessment to understand the potential impacts of such a regulation on different communities, including those that do not have access to electric or fossil gas infrastructure and rely on propane or woodburning to power appliances. This project would complement that work and inform CARB’s development of the Zero-Emission Appliance Standards.
While much of the state has access to electric and fossil gas infrastructure, a number of households/businesses and communities throughout the state use propane or woodburning to power appliances in commercial and residential buildings. Understanding these, often times, vulnerable communities is important to help mitigate potential negative impacts of building decarbonization policies and programs.,
In 2015, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) created the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) Affordable Energy Proceeding to increase access to affordable energy in disadvantaged communities in the SJV region. The proceeding led to local efforts to increase capacity to understand and improve energy access and affordability. The 2021 San Joaquin Valley Data Gathering Plan Findings Report summarizes energy access in SJV and differences in experiences, benefits, hardships, and/or socioeconomic characteristics between those who use propane and woodburning and those who do not. While the CPUC-funded study provides data on propane and woodburning users in SJV and their motivations, this study will complement it by expanding to other communities in the state, including those in different utility territories and climate zones, to get a broader view of the use of these fuels in California.
III. Scope of Work
Task 1 – Literature Review
Conduct a literature review on existing and ongoing research on alternative fuel use in commercial (e.g., office buildings, hotels, restaurants, etc.) and residential (single-family homes, multifamily dwellings, manufactured homes, etc.) buildings within California. For the purposes of this study, alternative fuel is defined as propane and woodburning. At the contract stage, the Contractor will clearly identify how this project will expand on current literature such as the CPUC San Joaquin Valley study.
Task 2 – Pre-Analysis Plan
At Pre-Proposal Stage
The proposer will describe a data collection methodology and analysis plan that is responsive to the objectives of this study.
At Proposal Stage
The selected proposer will further develop the data collection methodology and analysis plan outlined at the pre-proposal stage.
At Contract Stage
The Contractor will finalize a detailed data collection method described in the pre-proposal and proposal stage to be responsive to the objectives, including an explanation as to why the method proposed is the best method to reach the desired populations and what statistical and other methods will be utilized to analyze the data. The Contractor will submit a pre-analysis plan (PAP), which includes specific analysis plans and a power analysis, to CARB prior to data collection and analysis. Data collection can include methods such as case studies or focus groups, among others.
Task 3 – Understanding Propane and Woodburning Users, their Preferences, and Barriers to Electrification
This task identifies the characteristics of alternative fuel users in California including their sociodemographic characteristics, reason for using propane or woodburning to power appliances (in particular space and water heaters but also cooking and clothes drying) in commercial and residential buildings, and preference for which fuel type to use. In addition, what barriers do households and businesses face in switching from propane or woodburning to electricity by region or community type (e.g., climate zone, utility territory, rural/urban, mountain/coastal). Another dimension of interest is understanding the impacts and barriers that tenants experience.
While the American Communities Survey (ACS) contains data on the residential use of propane and woodburning for space heating, there is a lack of information on propane and woodburning use for residential water heating as well as propane and woodburning use in commercial building appliances overall. The Contractor shall use available ACS data, and other existing data sets such as the California Residential Appliance Saturation Study (RASS) and the California Commercial End-Use Survey (CEUS) to supplement data collection and analysis. The Contractor will also build on information from the CPUC San Joaquin Valley study and examine other communities and housing types, such as Tribal and mobile home communities and manufactured homes, in the state.
Subtask 3A: Collect Data
The Contractor will implement the finalized data collection methodology from the pre-analysis plan in communities throughout the state. Respondents should span different geographic regions of the state differing by climate zone, utility territory, and/or urban/rural regions. The Contractor should include adequate sampling to explore tenant-owner dynamics.
The Contractor shall enlist community organization(s) to assist with data collection from a broad array of community members. Community organization(s) must be included as subcontractors in the proposal. Additionally, the Contractor should seek out respondents who may not have internet access.
Subtask 3B: Analyze Data
The Contractor will follow the methodology identified in the pre-analysis plan to conduct data analysis. The Contractor will analyze the collected data to understand the social demographics of commercial and residential propane and woodburning fuel users as well as their motivations, and barriers to switching from propane or woodburning to electricity. The Contractor may also use other currently existing data sets in this analysis.
Task 4 – Understanding Solutions that Enable Fuel Switching from Propane and Woodburning to Electricity
This task examines and provides solutions to the electrification barriers identified in Task 3, paying close attention to differences by region including utility territory and climate zone. Using complementary information and existing data, the Contractor will identify potential solutions that take the following parameters into account: technical feasibility, cost, community acceptance, energy resiliency, time, tenant-owner dynamics (among other parameters) per region or community type.
Task 5 – Reports
The project will conclude with the preparation of a final report. The final report will document all methodologies, data analysis, processes employed in the completion of the research, results, and include a plain-language summary of policy recommendations. The Contractor shall provide data collected in this study to CARB in accordance with Institutional Review Board (IRB) guidelines.
The project pre-proposal must include but is not limited to the following deliverables:
At Pre-Proposal and Proposal Stage
- Cultural competency/humility statement
- Description of data collection methodology and analysis plan
During Active Contract Period
- Work with CARB staff at the beginning of the project to create a 1-page plain-language outreach deliverable for the public describing the project’s goals, process, and planned deliverables (available in multiple languages, template will be provided).
- Quarterly Progress Reports including public-facing updates to be posted to CARB’s website.
- Quarterly Progress Meetings.
- Informal monthly progress update meetings with CARB contract manager (if applicable).
- Final Pre-analysis plan
- Draft literature review
- Final literature review
- Draft Report
Prior to Contract Close
- Final Report
- Presentation summarizing findings at seminar or public meeting(s) (if applicable)
- All data, analyses and analytical tools generated through the course of this project
NOTE: contractor will be responsible for ensuring their documents comply with the American with Disabilities Act.
Additional deliverables to be determined in consultation with CARB staff.
It is anticipated this project will be completed in 15 months from the start date (start date is estimated to be in Spring 2024). The estimated budget for this project is up to $600,000.
1. Responsiveness to the goals and objectives outlined in the proposal solicitation (20 points)
The proposal should explain—in adequate detail and clear, understandable language—how the proposed project satisfies the project objectives. This contract should enhance CARB’s understanding of: 1) the utilization of propane and woodburning in commercial and residential buildings across California communities; 2) potential solutions to electrification barriers across multiple dimensions, such as technical feasibility, cost, community acceptance, time, and other parameters by region or community type.
2. Work experience and subject matter expertise (20 points)
The proposal should demonstrate that the proposers have the work experience or subject matter expertise required to successfully carry out the proposed project as described. Additionally, the proposal should describe how the project will build upon previous relevant work that was funded by CARB, other regional, state, and federal agencies. The proposers should have knowledge of building decarbonization and electrification and various space and water heater technology. They should also possess an understanding of energy infrastructure issues across various communities including climate zone, utility territory, and rural vs urban.
3. Expanding expertise (10 points)
The proposal should explain how the project team expands expertise such as by incorporating multidisciplinary expertise or perspectives, including members from various public universities, non-academic institutions, or community-based organizations, or providing opportunities to build skills and expertise for individuals from underrepresented groups. Reviewers will consider if key personnel contributing significantly to the project (i.e., a principal investigator, co-principal investigator or co-investigator, contributing 25 percent or more of their time to the project) have not worked with CARB in the past five years.
4. Explanation of technical or methodological approach (20 points)
The proposal should clearly explain the logic and feasibility of the project’s methodology, spell out the sequence and relationships of major tasks, and explain methods for performing the work. The proposal should include a clear description and plan for how each task will be completed and how the proposer will approach collecting information that may not be found in published works (i.e., how the proposer will identify and engage with specific project managers or sponsors to learn about efforts not captured in written documentation).
5. Level and quality of effort and cost effectiveness (15 points)
The proposal should describe how time and resources will be allocated and demonstrate how this allocation ensures the project’s success. Proposal reviewers will evaluate, for example: if the objectives of the project can be met given this allocation, if there is adequate supervision and oversight to ensure that the project will remain on schedule, if time and cost are appropriately divvied up across different project tasks and stages.
CARB. “2022 Scoping Plan Update.” Figure 1-8, page 56. Available at: https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/sites/default/files/2022-12/2022-sp_1.pdf
 Kenney, M., N. Janusch, I. Neumann, and M. Jaske. 2021. "California Building Decarbonization Assessment." California Energy Commission. Publication Number: CEC-400-2021-006-CMF. Available at: https://www.energy.ca.gov/publications/2021/california-building-decarbonization-assessment.
 CARB. “2022 Scoping Plan: Appendix F – Building Decarbonization.” Available at: https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/sites/default/files/2022-11/2022-sp-appendix-f-building-decarbonization.pdf
 Opinion Dynamics, 2021. “San Joaquin Valley Data Gathering Plan Findings Report.” Available at: https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/-/media/cpuc-website/divisions/energy-division/documents/infrastructure/disadvantaged-communities/sjv_dac_data-gathering_findings-report_vol1_final.pdf