WA Energy Code will Require Electric Heating in New Buildings

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This year, Washington state started a law that all new buildings have to have electric space heating and hot water systems. This goes into effect on July 1, 2023. The new system would be using hot pumps– to extract the heat from outside to reverse the air and make it colder as well– which would be used for warm water. 

As climate change has become a leading discussion in the science world, a lot of scientists have been wanting to see buildings transfer to clean electricity usage–free from voltage spikes and drops. This is resulting in another conversation about how to get this system to be easier and less expensive. To help this problem, a lot of advocates are leaning toward change in law for new buildings, so that eventually almost all of the buildings will have clean electricity usage. 

However, this new code has some exceptions – namely hospitals, research facilities, and large commercial buildings. This will also ban HVAC systems that use fossil fuels. As for water heating, 50 percent of the water heating must be warmed up from the heat pump system. 

With all of these new rules, Washington officially becomes the first state to move into a completely new energy usage era. They will also benefit society greatly as carbon emissions are predicted to reduce by eight million tons by 2050. Throughout the debate on how this would impact the state overall, there is a lot of talk about the three-year code cycle, which requires code updates that annually reduces the net energy consumption by 70 percent from 2006 to 2031.

However, for students on campus, this doesn’t seem to be much of a change until more buildings are added. According to Elissa Gordon, in sustainability at BC, “The newest buildings; the U, T and housing do not have natural gas heating and cooling, so the College has already been moving away from this. Since the code is only applicable to buildings built after July 2023, we won’t have to change anything that currently exists on campus. Overall, the college has been moving away from natural gas heating and cooling systems for current and new buildings which greatly helps reduce the BC’s greenhouse gas emissions.” 

Overall though, Washington has inspired many other states to join the movement by using more clean electricity, and helping the environment!