Three States Enact Integrated Plans to Decarbonize Buildings

(ACEEE blog, 23 Aug 2022) More states are enacting laws to promote electric vehicles as well as wind and solar energy. Washington State passed legislation prohibiting the sale of automobiles with internal combustion engines beginning with model year 2030. Other states are pushing to decarbonize buildings, notably with heat pumps, as part of comprehensive legislation that considers impacts on energy efficiency, the power grid, and natural gas pipes.

 Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) signed sweeping climate legislation on August 11 to expand offshore wind energy, prohibit the sale of internal combustion engine automobiles after 2035, and put restrictions on natural gas in newly constructed buildings. Maryland and New York also passed laws this year to begin the transition away from on-site combustion of fossil fuels for building heat, which accounts for about 29% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions

Decarbonizing building heating systems will require greater efficiency for new and existing buildings, including net-zero building codes and beneficial electrification. Renewable thermal energy—such as ground-source heat pumps—will also be needed, along with grid infrastructure investments for greater reliability and deployment of small renewable energy generation and storage technologies, known as distributed energy resources. 

Energy efficiency will be key to limiting electricity demand as buildings shift from natural gas to electric heat pumps for both space and water heating. Right-sized electricity demand will, in turn, help policymakers and regulators better plan and coordinate electrical grid and natural gas pipe investments for an affordable energy delivery system. 

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ACEEE blog, 23 Aug 2022: Three States Enact Integrated Plans to Decarbonize Buildings