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Brynn Furey on the Importance of Electrification

Green Builder sat down with this 23-year-old energy conservation and efficiency associate to explore her work in Environment America’s greater goal of 100 percent renewable energy.

Looking back on her childhood surrounded by southern Florida's flourishing wildlife, Brynn Furey remembers encountering birds, lizards, and marine life during her daily activities. She specifically recalls a rare freezing event, where her mom searched their neighborhood, saving as many iguanas as possible, and created a makeshift animal sanctuary in their living room. 

 

Admiring her mother's actions, Furey was passionate about wildlife and ecology but did not see herself working in a lab or the field. Instead, she found her calling in Policy. She now works to protect wildlife and their habitats through energy policy, working towards a transition away from fossil fuels. 

Currently, Furey works for Environment America on its clean energy team as an energy conservation and efficiency associate. As a team, they are pushing for 100 percent renewable energy. Furey works to make buildings more efficient, with the goal, ultimately, to electrify them, so they can run on renewable energy sources and eliminate the need for fossil fuel usage. 

Furey

Brynn Furey, energy conservation and efficiency associate at Environment America

Recently, Furey has worked in Massachusetts to push appliance efficiency standards for buildings to reduce the overall energy consumption and waste. Through her dedicated work, Massachusetts passed the appliance efficiency standards a few weeks ago. Seeing her first project and campaign come to fruition has been inspiring for her career. 

Now, Furey has been working on a defense campaign against anti-clean energy bills that are backed by the gas industry in 15 states. If passed, they would prevent communities from being able to mandate all buildings run exclusively on electric equipment, with electric cooking, heating, cooling, and hot water heating. The gas companies want to limit the mandate, so it would only be allowed to come from the state, which is much less likely.

Furey struggles with going against the gas industry and the bills they back. She feels overwhelmed being just one person behind a computer screen taking on such a large task. She also notes how a large portion of the population still doesn't see the value in electrification. In response to this, her team’s goals include getting people up to speed, providing knowledge, and asking them to take action.

To further educate the public, Furey worked on Environment America’s electric buildings report that was recently released. It helps tell the story of why electrifying our buildings is important as it can help reduce indoor and outdoor air pollution and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The switch to electric is a key step in the transition to renewable energy. 

As for positive changes people can make now, Furey recommends that new builds or retrofits specify only energy-efficient appliances and renewable energy sources. When replacing old or broken appliances, she urges homeowners to replace them with electric options. If choosing one appliance to upgrade, Furey suggests starting with swapping the gas stove for an electric option as it offers large improvements to indoor air quality and the environment. 

If your homeowners or renters are not in the position to invest in your home, or they rent, Furey suggests supporting policies that ease the transition to renewable energy usage. These make it easier for others to make the transition. Specifically, Furey asks that readers in states considering a gas ban or preemptive/anti-clean energy bill to call their legislators and tell them not to support any bills that would undermine any community’s ability to set goals to electrify buildings. 

Currently, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming are considering the bill. Each bill has a different name in each state. If you want the exact bill number in your state, contact Brynn Furey.