Energy Conservation & Efficiency

Win in Washington for Cleaner, Healthier Homes

Clean air

Last Friday, Nov 4th, the Washington State Building Code Council adopted new residential building codes that will make new residential homes healthier for Washingtonians and more climate-friendly. The new codes will:

  • Require energy-efficient heat pumps for space heating/cooling and water heating. Heat pumps provide ultra-efficient heating, as well as cooling—an increasingly important need in Washington’s hotter summers and when residents are forced indoors by wildfire smoke. They run on the state’s clean and comparatively low-cost electricity. According to the Department of Commerce, all-electric homes save Washingtonians $1,000 per year over the lifetime of the HVAC equipment.
  • Improve ventilation requirements for any new homes built with gas ranges for cooking. These safeguards are needed because of toxic pollutants like nitrogen oxides emitted by appliances that burn methane gas. In kitchens, this air pollution affects children especially, who are 42% more likely to suffer symptoms of asthma when they grow up in homes with a gas stove instead of an electric stove. Recent research has found that gas appliances even leak pollutants when they are off, including benzene, a carcinogen.

Many advocates and activists were part of this win for our health and climate. More than 100 people testified in support of the code updates at the SBCC’s two public hearings and more than 4,600 residents and experts submitted comments in support of the new residential codes.

Washington’s residential code update also adds to the wave of recent actions around the country including approximately 90 jurisdictions in 11 states that have adopted building electrification policies since 2019. The Inflation Reduction Act is expected to provide the average family $10,600 in incentives to electrify.

Pam Clough
Pam Clough

Former Advocate, Environment Washington

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