Washington recently became the first state to require all electric heat for new buildings.
Under the state’s new energy code, most new commercial and large multifamily buildings will have to install heat pumps. The State Building Code Council, which voted to adopt a revised energy code that includes the all-electric provision, will consider a similar proposal for smaller residential buildings later this year. The revised code also requires the use of heat-pump hot water heaters.
The new Washington code includes exemptions for hospitals, research facilities, and other buildings where fossil fuels are required for “specific needs that cannot practicably be served by heat pumps.” Washington’s action is the latest in a widespread effort to transition buildings to appliances and HVAC equipment that can be powered by clean electricity. Advocates in many areas are backing legislation and code updates that restrict the expansion of natural gas use in new buildings.
There has been significant pushback on these efforts, though. In early April, a proposed gas ban for new buildings in New York State was dropped during contentious budget negotiations. (New York City, however, did impose a gas ban on new buildings in December.) California adopted a building code change last August that strongly discourages gas hookups in new buildings but does not mandate it.