Buildings are responsible for a quarter of California’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In September 2018, California adopted a law to reduce these emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. As part of this effort, the state’s Public Utilities Commission is investing an initial $200 million over four years to advance low-carbon space and water heating technologies in both new and existing buildings.
At the end of 2018, the commission approved a pilot investment of $50 million for clean energy electrification of 1,600 low-income households across the San Joaquin Valley. In January 2020, the commission also launched a new rulemaking process to manage the state’s transition away from natural gas and deal with stranded assets and associated equity concerns among ratepayers.
Became the first municipality to ban gas in most new construction (starting Jan. 1, 2020), and more than 40 local governments across the state have since adopted gas bans or electrification building codes – including San Jose, the 10th largest city in the United States. More than 50 others are also considering policies to support all-electric new construction.
Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled a sweeping sustainability plan in 2019 that requires all new buildings to be “net-zero carbon” by 2030, with the entire building stock converted to zero-emission technologies by 2050.
Municipal Utility District established a major incentive program to push all-electric homes. All-electric homes are becoming the default for new residential construction, and the district has embedded electrification within its energy efficiency programs to ensure that low- and moderate-income households are able to go gas-free at the same rate as the rest of the population.
The nation's 10th largest city, San Jose, prohibited gas in new single-family homes and low-rise multifamily buildings starting in January 2020, and in November 2020, the City Council extended the measure to prohibit gas in almost all new construction, including commercial and high-rise residential buildings.
Denver’s City Council in November 2021 passed an ordinance that requires large commercial and multifamily buildings to slash emissions through efficiency and electrification upgrades. The city plans to provide extensive support and incentives to help building owners and managers achieve compliance.
In November 2019 became the first community outside of California to ban gas and other fossil fuel infrastructure in new buildings. While that bylaw was later struck down by the state's attorney general, the town passed a new law in June 2021 that encourages all-electric buildings in new construction and major renovations.
Issued a 2019 update of its Climate Action Plan, which calls for retrofitting and electrifying at least 80% of the city’s existing buildings over the next 30 years. A report commissioned by the city shows that two-thirds of Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, and says that meeting its carbon neutral by 2050 goal will require three overarching strategies: deep energy efficiency, electrifying as much as possible, and purchasing 100% clean energy.
In 2019, state lawmakers passed a suite of aggressive new climate bills aimed at dramatically reducing the state’s carbon emissions, which included tough efficiency standards for buildings larger than 50,000 square feet. Though it didn’t make it out of the statehouse in 2021, Governor Inslee is pushing first-of-its-kind legislation that would require new construction to be all-electric.
In February 2021 approved changes to its energy codes that will prevent gas use for space and water heating in most new commercial and apartment buildings. And the city had previously adopted a 24 cents per gallon tax on home-heating oil, with revenues dedicated to converting households from oil to all-electric heat.
New York has adopted legislation that commits the state to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Citing this target, the New York State Public Service Commission in March 2020 initiated a review of gas utilities and distribution that aims to “reduce or eliminate the need for gas infrastructure and investments.”
New York City
In April 2019 also passed sweeping climate legislation that caps emissions for buildings over 25,000 square feet. NYC became the first big American city, and only the second large city globally, to require energy retrofits on older buildings. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large buildings by 40% over the next decade and more than 80% by 2050. Buildings are responsible for 70% of NYC’s greenhouse gas footprint. And in early 2021, New York moved to ban gas hookups in new buildings starting in 2030.
In November 2021, the Ithaca Common Council voted to electrify and decarbonize every building in the city, and the city raised $100 million through private equity investment for a first phase targeting upgrades for about 1,600 buildings. While this novel initiative will allow the city to ditch fossil fuels and lower emissions, it will also help low-income households access new, highly efficient electric appliances that can lower costs and improve comfort.
Gov. Phil Murphy released the state’s final Energy Master Plan in January 2020, which, among other things, calls for the transition to a fully electrified building sector. According to the report, “... beyond 2030, state policy will have to aggressively target existing gas-heated buildings to reduce emissions and achieve aggregate energy demand reductions.”
District of Columbia
Buildings account for 74% of D.C.’s carbon emissions.
The city passed an aggressive new energy law in December 2018 that, among other things, establishes energy efficiency requirements for buildings greater than 10,000 square feet