This blog was written by Mark Kresowik of Sierra Club, a Building Decarb Central partner, and represents the organization's work and approach. Building Decarb Central is meant to share different perspectives on the topic of building decarbonization. This blog is part of that dialogue.
The Northeast has made great progress in reducing pollution from electricity generation and some advances with clean transportation. Reducing pollution from space and water heating as well as cooking is rapidly rising as a top priority. Burning less dirty energy in buildings by increasing efficiency and switching to smart heating and cooking solutions - primarily heat pumps and induction stoves - will save families and businesses money, benefit public health, and grow local economies. Despite the importance of this change, we are still not fully utilizing all opportunities to save energy. There are many barriers to the widespread deployment of energy-saving smart heating technologies. These barriers include consumer awareness, utility disincentives, and a lack of supportive policies.
A diverse, regional coalition of advocates with a concerted strategy to tackle policy and market barriers is the best way to advance the rapid expansion of improved efficiency and uptake of heat pumps and induction stoves in the Northeast. Coordinating a broad group of interests, including equity, consumer, business, labor, and environmental interests, will allow for policy innovation that ensures equitable transformation of building heating and will also demonstrate diverse support for the proposed changes. A regional coalition will allow for the sharing of best practices in an area with a similar energy landscape and climate, and will allow spotlighting of state leaders. Building a diverse coalition will help accelerate smart heating in the region in a way that benefits all residents and reduces pollution.
The Northeast Smart Heating Collaborative’s overarching goal is to refocus climate and energy advocacy on buildings in the Northeast towards more ambitious energy efficiency and electrification targets, putting the region on a path towards getting unsafe and unhealthy energy out of buildings. By the end of 2021, our objectives are to:
- Secure clear targets for significant climate pollution reductions from efficiency and smarter heating of buildings, including prioritization for low and moderate-income housing;
- Ensure all new approvals for energy efficiency and electrification programs in the region use metrics around climate pollution and start to phase out incentives for gas appliances;
- Pass stretch building codes and performance standards that drive greater efficiency and fully support electric new construction and retrofits;
- Have approved regulatory pathways to start phasing out gas distribution infrastructure in an equitable way;
- Highlight examples of dozens of buildings, campuses, and communities, particularly those which have been overburdened by high energy costs and unsafe buildings, that are fully utilizing energy saving and smart heating and cooking technologies to provide safe and healthy energy;
- Shift public attitudes with messaging that supports efficiency and smart heating and cooking policies and technologies;
- Create pathways to tens of thousands of new, family-supporting jobs and higher performance throughout the efficiency and smart heating workforce;
This blog is part of Building Decarb Central, a series of blogs and other resources aimed at providing a constant flow of information on building decarbonization. Be sure to check out our web portal for more stories, resources, and information.