Today’s Solutions: May 31, 2023

New York State recently approved groundbreaking legislation mandating all-electric new construction, making it the first state in the US to prohibit using fossil fuels in buildings. The All-Electric Building Act, which is scheduled to be signed into law soon by Governor Kathy Hochul, will compel most new buildings to utilize exclusively electricity for heating, cooling, and other energy needs beginning in 2026. The new legislation aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which account for about a third of overall emissions in New York, as well as indoor air pollution, which contributes to childhood asthma. 

Environmental conservation takes a historic step forward

The passage of the All-Electric Building Act represents a huge step ahead in the fight against climate change, as well as a historic stride forward for environmental protection. The Natural Resources Defense Council’s New York legislative and policy director, Richard Schrader, called it “a historic step forward that will address greenhouse gases and other harmful emissions from new buildings.

Widespread political support for zero-emissions building codes

The fact that the All-Electric Building Act was passed by the state Senate and Assembly with broad political support demonstrates a growing understanding and care for environmental issues. Although California and Washington states had already passed legislation to limit gas use in new construction, New York is the first state to outright prohibit it. According to the Building Decarbonization Coalition, more than 100 state and local governments in the United States have approved some sort of zero-emissions building ordinance.

Landmark legislation: A role model for other states?

While the policy’s immediate effects may be limited, Amy Turner, a senior fellow at Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, believes it will have a nationwide influence. “Over the next couple of years, seeing whether this is technologically feasible in a state that is as big and cold and politically diverse as New York state could lead some other states to enact their requirements,” she said. 

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