In Washington State, the Healthy Homes and Clean Buildings Act is making it’s way through the Senate.
Sponsored by Rep. Alex Ramel, the Healthy Homes and Cleaner Buildings House Bill 1084 aims to help Washington State’s buildings transition fully to clean energy by 2050.
“If passed, the bill will ensure utilities align their long-term plans with the state’s climate goals, provide local jurisdictions with the authority to adopt a stronger local energy code, expand services for low-income energy users to include conversion to clean energy, set high standards for wages and career development in the emerging clean energy workforce, and enable all utilities to provide customers with incentives for electric appliances.”
This bill was drafted by request of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee as buildings account for 23% of the state’s carbon footprint each year.
HB 1084 is a way for the state to enact their 2021 Washington State Energy Strategy, which comprises of detailed plans for how Washington will meet the goal of net-zero energy by 2050.
What would the bill accomplish?
The bill aims to alleviate many aspects of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions. These include:
- Require that any new building constructed in 2030 or after must be zero carbon, with no gas used for space and water heating
- Put the state on a path to decarbonize all of its buildings by 2050
- Strengthen state building codes to incentivize electric appliances over gas
- Create a heat pump and electrification program to support the use of clean electricity for space and water heating
- Authorize public utilities to provide incentives for high-efficiency electric equipment, paving the way for utilities’ existing energy efficiency funds to be spent on climate-friendly appliances rather than gas.
- Require utilities to fund programs to assist in the transition to clean energy, including transitioning their gas workers to new jobs.
- Require utilities to align long-term plans for their gas systems with the state’s climate goals, and requires planning for an equitable transition away from gas in buildings.
Does Washington have to develop a new energy code?
That’s one of the bill’s goals: to update the state energy code for construction projects going forward. This will require an all-electric space and water heating by 2027. The proposed update would also require all buildings to produce zero emissions by 2030. Even though many states have pledged to move towards zero emissions by 2030, Washington state’s “Healthy Homes and Cleaner Buildings” Act will be the first to have a firm deadline.
How does this affect the economy?
It would greatly improve costs for Washington residents. Last October, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission found that the average monthly bill for a Seattle residential home was $70.44. A study was undertaken by RMI, a corporation whose goal is to transform how Americans produce and use energy. They found that Seattle implemented the new bill, residents could see up to a 93% price drop, which would mean they’d only pay a small fee each month.
Are there any problems facing HB 1084?
Republicans aren’t too sure about the new bill.
The bill was supposed to be scheduled for a vote in the House Appropriations Committee last February, but it never took place. Instead, some of the bill’s provisions passed by satisfying Washington through state’s budget. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much said on why the bill didn’t pass the House.
What’s stopping Washington from doing more?
Current Washington laws keep cities from pursuing more ambitious zero-emission energy codes than what’s provided for buildings. The ideal scenario would be if Washington could adopt measures that Californian cities are taking towards going all-electric; so far over 50 cities have signed off on plans to work towards that goal. However, if HB 1084 passes, then cities statewide would have the green light to “accelerate the implementation of all-electric residential buildings by creating a state-wide all-electric reach code that cities can adopt into their local energy codes.”
Washington is inching closer towards their 100% net-zero emissions goal. Even if legislatures are hesitant about the new bill, it seems like it’s only a matter of time until Healthy Homes and Clean Buildings can be fully realized. Until then, remember to educate yourself and others about renewable energy.
Check out these links below to learn more about what’s going on in Washington state.