Washington can’t wait to electrify
In the midst of the 2020 election limbo, the Washington State Department of Commerce quietly released a draft of its Washington State 2021 Energy Strategy. And it’s clear that Washington is not on track to reach its 2030 commitment target or its deeper decarbonization emissions target of being carbon neutral by 2050 unless buildings are rapidly electrified.
The report indicates that economy-wide decarbonization “with the least societal costs” would require a “95% reduction in building sector emissions” by 2050 and “the energy code [being] accelerated to become zero energy, zero-carbon and all-electric no later than the 2027 code.”
While Washington is right about the importance of amending building codes to meet climate goals, the code should not wait until 2027 to go all-electric. With the upcoming 2021 legislative cycle beginning in the next few months, the State of Washington has a powerful opportunity to remove regulatory barriers that prevent local governments from exceeding the statewide energy code.
Removing regulatory barriers would be a small but crucial change that would allow cities that are ready to electrify to include residential homes in their local reach codes. Then, Washington must turn its attention to amending building codes to require new buildings to be all-electric by 2021.
Washington has set ambitious but necessary climate targets. The decisions it makes in the next few years will determine whether or not it is able to reach them.