Using propane can significantly reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions across multiple commercial building applications compared to other energy sources, according to a study commissioned by the Propane Education & Research Council.

“Especially as states and municipalities add more stringent emissions standards, propane’s value as a clean fuel will be more important than ever in helping businesses, schools, and other facilities reduce emissions without sacrificing performance,” said Jesse Marcus, PERC director of residential and commercial business development. “This data reinforces the fact that propane is the solution for builders who want to use high-efficiency, sustainable appliances or who may have customers with sustainability benchmarks to meet.”

From August 2016 to January 2017, PERC contracted with the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) to execute a comparative emissions analysis study of commercial propane applications. The study leveraged tools and reports under GTI’s Carbon Management Information Center consortium, including its Source Energy and Emissions Analysis Tool (SEEAT). SEEAT uses government and published data sources to estimate emissions associated with the full-fuel-cycle. The study analyzed GHG, NOx, and SOx produced in four different commercial appliances: space heating, water heating, power generation, and micro-combined heat and power.

Space Heating

The report found that propane furnaces were a low-emissions alternative to electric, heating oil, and even Energy Star-rated or conventional heat pumps. The analysis found the following emissions reductions with propane furnaces:

  • GHG: 34 percent less than electric and 10 percent less than heating oil.
  • NOx: 19 percent less than electric and 75 percent less than heating oil.
  • SOx: 68 percent less than electric furnaces.

Water Heating

Both propane storage tank and tankless water heaters were found to have emissions advantages over electric or oil water heaters. The analysis found the following emissions reductions with propane water heaters:

  • GHG: 40 percent less than electric and 24 percent less than oil.
  • NOx: 80 percent less than oil and 18 percent less than electric.
  • SOx: 87 percent less than electric water heaters.

Power Generation

No matter when used, propane-powered generators can provide peace of mind to commercial businesses with reduced emissions and reliable power to maintain essential lighting, heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration compared to other power sources. The analysis found the following emissions reductions with propane generators:

  • GHG: 17 percent less than natural gas.
  • NOx: 31 percent less than natural gas.
  • SOx: 72 percent less than electric grid power.

Micro-Combined Heat and Power (mCHP)

Micro-combined heat and power offers commercial businesses lower emissions and increased efficiency. The analysis found the following emissions reductions with propane mCHP systems:

  • GHG: 15 percent less than diesel systems and 50 percent less than electric.
  • NOx: 13 percent less than natural gas systems and 50 percent less than electric.
  • SOx: 90 percent less than electric systems.

For more information on how propane can be used by commercial businesses, and how else propane equipment can help reduce emissions, visit buildwithpropane.com/Propane-Systems/Commercial-Applications.

Click here to view the full report.

About PERC: The Propane Education & Research Council is a nonprofit that provides leading propane safety and training programs and invests in research and development of new propane-powered technologies. PERC is operated and funded by the propane industry. For more information, visit propane.com.

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