By Bradford White Corporation
As I wrote earlier this summer, dozens of local governments in California, in their efforts to combat the impacts of climate change, have enacted building code changes that require all-electric appliances in residential new construction. As suspected these policies have begun to spread, not only geographically to other areas of the country, but also in scope to cover existing construction as well.
The Washington State Building Code Council is currently considering two amendments to the state building code that would prohibit gas-fired appliances in any new commercial construction after July 1, 2023, without any exceptions. You can read the proposed amendments here, and here. Both proposals are currently open for public comments, which you can submit via email to email@example.com.
On the east coast, the City of Boston unanimously approved an ordinance last month that would require all buildings larger than 20,000 square-feet to be emissions-free by 2050. The new ordinance would cover both new and existing buildings in the city and proposes to reach this goal by taking a series of steps every five years. The language of the ordinance can be found here. The New York City Council is also considering legislation that would essentially ban the use of natural gas-fired appliances in most new construction installations. If approved by the city council, it could take effect as early as 2023. You can see that language here.
However, this activity elsewhere does not mean California has slowed their efforts. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) proposed a new rule earlier this year that would effectively ban the installation of many gas-fired boilers, furnaces, and water heaters in new, as well as existing, buildings in the next 10 years. The BAAQMD is one of 35 regional air districts throughout the state that has the authority to set NOx emissions limits for gas-fired appliances.
The District has proposed that boilers and commercial water heaters with less than 2 MMBtu/hr input produce zero NOx emissions by 2031; the same for residential furnaces by 2029; and for residential water heaters by 2027. You can learn more about these proposals here.
While Bradford White Corporation supports our customers who prefer electric appliances, we believe that policies mandating this direction can be risky if not carefully and responsibly crafted. Moving too hastily toward electrification creates potential threats to the safety, comfort, and economic well-being of installers, along with the individuals, families and job providers that utilize our products. Rushed policies could even hurt the potential growth of energy saving, environmental-friendly, products in the market if regulators do not comprehensively account for the space and water heating needs of all potential installation types.
As laws and regulations like those described above continue to be considered across the country, it is vital that policymakers hear your voice. As professionals who work with these products, and the people who use them, every day, your expertise can make a major difference in shaping responsible policies that benefit us all.
Staff Writer , Bradford White Corporation