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Washington state tries new approach to phase out fossil fuels in new construction

Codes and Standards

Washington state tries new approach to phase out fossil fuels in new construction

Code changes require new buildings to match total energy performance of those built with electric heat pumps


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | December 11, 2023
Image by Pexels from Pixabay - Washington state tries new approach to phase out fossil fuels in new construction
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

After pausing a heat pump mandate earlier this year after a federal court overturned Berkeley, Calif.’s ban on gas appliances in new buildings, Washington state enacted a new code provision that seems poised to achieve the same goal.

The state Building Code Council recently revised the state building code to require new buildings to meet the same total energy performance as those built with electric heat pumps. Builders have the option to choose gas appliances, but they must find ways to achieve the same efficiency as a building that uses heat pumps.

Washington’s approach enacts a tough standard that makes it difficult and expensive for builders to meet energy efficiency targets without installing heat pumps instead of explicitly mandating them. Heat pumps can put out three to four times as much heat energy as the amount of electricity they consume, making buildings that use them much more energy efficient than those heated by gas.

The code revisions could go into effect as soon as March 15, pending any legal challenges.

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