Coalition Calls to Move California Homes and Businesses Off Fossil Fuels Completely

by | Feb 13, 2019

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The Building Decarbonization Coalition is asking California Governor Gavin Newsom to address what they call a blind spot in the state’s climate policy: emissions from homes and buildings.

In “A Roadmap to Decarbonize California’s Buildings,” released this week, the coalition laid out a plan for the state to cut building emissions 20% in the next six years and 40% by 2030 — and to adopt zero-emission building codes for residential and commercial buildings by 2025 and 2027, respectively. Residential buildings produce roughly two-thirds of the state’s building emissions, and commercial buildings produce around one-third, the coalition notes.

Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission announced efforts to reduce building emissions, as it implements SB 1477 from Sen. Henry Stern, which deploys $200 million to help make clean heating options like electric heat pumps more accessible to all Californians through incentives for manufacturers and builders.

The Roadmap — developed by energy providers, workers, developers, local governments and environmental organizations — responds to a range of market and policy barriers preventing mass adoption of zero-emission appliances, even though electric heat pumps, electric induction ranges and electric clothes dryers are readily available.

To achieve an equitable approach for all consumers, the roadmap calls for low-cost, easily accessible financing options, re-aligning existing programs to help communities achieve carbon-free homes and implementing measures such as bulk purchasing, subsidizing installations and contractor training.

Recommendations

The Building Decarbonization Coalition Roadmap recommends the following:

  • California should adopt a Zero Emission Building Code for the residential sector by 2025, and commercial sector by 2028.
  • California should set greenhouse gas emission reduction standards for the overall building stock that accounts for emissions lock-in from fossil fuel-powered appliances:
    • 2025: 20% GHG reductions from building sector
    • 2030: 40% GHG reductions from building sector
    • 2045: 100% GHG reductions from building sector
  • California’s existing energy efficiency targets will help speed this process by ensuring buildings are well-insulated and reducing overall energy demand.
  • In order to achieve these emission reduction targets, California should build the market share for underlying technologies to hit the following targets:
    • Increase the share of high efficiency heat pumps for space heating from 5% of sales in 2018 to 50% in 2025 and 100% in 2030.
    • Increase the share of high efficiency heat pumps for water heating from 1% of sales in 2018 to 50% in 2025 and 100% in 2030.

The 4th Annual Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference takes place May 13 – 15, 2019 in Denver. Learn more here.

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