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5 Unique Benefits of Natural Gas

Key Points
  • Clean-burning natural gas helps to lower energy costs and reduce emissions.
  • Added benefits include faster cooking times and increased property values.
  • The higher source energy efficiency helps earn green certifications.
Source: iStock
blue flame
You may know that clean-burning natural gas is helping facilities across the country lower energy costs and reduce emissions. But did you know with gas you can...

1. Cook more efficiently and quickly. Professional chefs prefer cooking with natural gas because it offers excellent temperature control and reduced cooking times. Natural gas steam equipment also provides a healthy way to cook a wide variety of foods and maintains the food's color, texture, moisture and nutrients.

Gas-fired pizza ovens take less than fifteen minutes to reach the desired cooking temperature and provide better tasting pies. High-efficiency gas fryers offer shorter recovery periods than typical fryers. Gas steam griddles provide even, consistent heating for delivering quality food fast with added flavor. With gas-fueled cooking equipment, restaurants and food service facilities are improving productivity and reducing energy costs while keeping their customers' taste buds satisfied.

2. Generate your own power. With the help of reciprocating or turbine engines fueled by natural gas, combined heat and power systems produce heat and electricity simultaneously. Medina City School District (Ohio) installed a CHP system for its high school of more than 2,500 students. The CHP unit offsets more than one million kWh of purchased electricity per year, saving an estimated $83,000 annually in electrical costs. Waste heat is recovered at a rate of 747,000 Btu per hour to offset heating costs, helping to double the facility's overall energy efficiency.

3. Earn green certifications. For LEED New Construction, Energy & Atmosphere (E&A) credit points are based on energy costs savings. Because natural gas is one-half to one-third lower in cost than electricity in some cases (on a Btu basis), installing one or more types of gas-fueled equipment can lead to more points. For Existing Buildings, E&A credit points use source energy calculated from ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager. If you compare source energy efficiency of natural gas versus electric equipment, you'll see natural gas has double or more the efficiency.

Two apartment buildings in the Bronx—The Melody and The Eltona—earned LEED Platinum with natural gas condensing boilers for space heating and micro CHP units powered by natural gas. The CHP units at The Eltona provide 100 percent of the building's domestic hot water supply.

4. Increase property values. After Pine Harbor, a 208-apartment building in Buffalo, NY, switched from electric to gas heat in most units and some common areas, the appraised value increased 33 percent, or $4.68 per square foot. This increase doesn't take into account greatly improved indoor comfort and tenant-landlord relations and the potential for tenant retention and reduction in vacancy rates. When these effects are quantified, even higher values are possible.

5. Make the top 10 list for sustainability. A 2013 ranking comparing 215 universities from 49 countries listed the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) in the 7th spot. The university earned this ranking with the help of its natural gas chiller/combined cycle cogeneration plant, which has been operating since 1994 and is twice as efficient as a conventional power plant. The plant provides 70 percent of the campus' electricity (42.5 MW). The waste heat from electricity generation produces 160,000 pounds/hour steam at 150 psig and 16,600 tons of water for all heating and cooling needs.

With the savings generated by natural gas, even small companies like West Virginia's Blenko Glass are investing in new equipment. The $200,000 savings in energy costs allowed the company to spend more than $5,000 and also enabled the hand-blown glass producer to begin a 10-year plan to upgrade their entire facility.