House passes Washington Clean Buildings bill

Source: Sean O’Leary, NWenergy.org, March 30

OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON — Last night’s passage of the Clean Buildings for Washington Act (HB 1257) by the state House of Representatives moves Washington one step closer to becoming a national leader in tackling one of the least recognized but biggest and fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Buildings are responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in Washington, and the amount has risen by 50% since 1990.  These effects are offsetting progress we’re making in reducing emissions from the electricity and transportation sectors and, if not addressed, will make it impossible for Washington to meet its emission reduction goals.

The Clean Buildings Act, sponsored by Representatives Beth Doglio (D-22), Debra Lekanoff (D-40), Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34), Gael Tarleton (D-36) and many other champions, will establish energy efficiency standards for large commercial buildings of greater than 50,000 square feet. These buildings are relatively few in number – only about 6% of all commercial buildings – but make an outsized contribution to emissions.

The resulting upgrades will come at little cost because building owners will not be required to make any upgrades unless the investment pays for itself in reduced electricity bills.  Plus, the bill provides $75 million in incentives to assist the owners of buildings that require major capital improvements.

The bill will also set energy efficiency standards for natural gas utilities and encourage them to acquire renewable natural gas made from organic matter. And new buildings with parking will be required to be equipped with electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

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