Energy Central

The Role of Gas Companies in a Net Zero Future: A Spotlight on Nicor Gas Smart Neighborhoods™

This article was originally featured in the Energy Central

There is a popular misconception that natural gas equals increased CO2 and poor air quality and that natural gas utilities are lagging behind electric utilities in terms of innovation in net zero. This is simply incorrect. Today’s highly efficient gas technologies like the newest heat pumps actually emit less CO2 than their electric counterparts. Coupling natural gas and electric, rather than converting homes to 100% electric, will not only keep energy prices lower for consumers, but also decrease the need for power plants and lessen the need to burn fossil fuels.

For generations natural gas has provided safe, reliable and affordable heat and a source for cooking to all populations in this country and it continues to do so. At Nicor Gas, the innovative teams are hard at work on sustainable products like renewable natural gas (RNG) that turns biomass into energy. Natural gas also plays a critical role in advancing solar and wind technologies. Nicor Gas works with commercial and industrial customers across Northern Illinois to provide clean, safe, reliable and affordable back-up generation for their renewable applications.

Natural Gas and Net Zero: An Equitable Solution

Nicor Gas is partnering with Habitat for Humanity affiliates on two new neighborhoods in Illinois. This will be the first time a gas company is driving affordable net zero new home communities for low-income customers.

In Aurora and Northern Fox Valley, where the two brand new home communities are being built, will demonstrate how leveraging existing natural gas systems can advance renewables in cold climate regions, driving energy affordability, reliability and resilience.

The 30 homes will all be customers of Nicor Gas and offer a combination of sustainable features to demonstrate how gas companies contribute to a more sustainable and affordable energy future.

The technologies in the new homes include:

  • Solar panels – These panels collect energy from the sun that can be stored in the home battery. Solar technology offers cost savings and environmental benefits.
  • Battery storage system – The new homes will be built with battery storage systems in the garage that capture energy from the solar panels to power the home during an outage.
  • Insulated concrete foam walls – Utilizing insulated concrete foam (ICF) means less energy is required to heat and cool your home and can offer savings of up to 50%.
  • Spray foam – Concrete slabs and attics are sprayed for added thermal layering, to keep the home free from unnecessary air leaks.
  • Energy efficient windows – Double pane windows are high efficiency and reduce risk of drafts.
  • Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) – HRV systems allow for preheating and precooling the air coming inside your home to keep energy bills low.
  • LED lighting – LED lighting uses up to 85% less energy than traditional bulbs, demonstrating additional efficiency and savings.

Design of the communities is complete and groundbreaking for the new Habitat homes in Aurora will begin this Spring. To learn more about the new Nicor Gas Smart Neighborhoods visit