HB 1770: to mandate zero-emission construction on new homes
1. Legislators are seeking to impose strict new net-zero housing requirements to meet the state’s CO2-reduction targets.
2. The proposed rules duplicate existing climate regulations, adding cost but little environmental benefits.
3. The legislation requires new homes to be solar-ready even though the state is already on track to zero-emission electricity and rooftop solar is the most expensive form of renewable energy.
4. Although solar-ready construction would add costs to all new homes, the benefits would go primarily to families earning twice the median income.
5. Replacing natural gas heating with electricity will increase demand, pushing up costs and increasing the risk of electricity shortages, especially during peak demand hours.
6. The bill’s rules would take 100 years to reduce an equivalent amount of emissions as available alternatives.
7. The bill would increase housing costs at a time of rising inflation. Electric heating is also more expensive, increasing monthly costs above the initial construction cost.
Washington state’s new economy-wide CO2 emissions cap has not even been implemented yet, and legislators are already proposing new regulations that would dictate how residents must reduce future household emissions. HB 1770 would require new homes and other buildings to be built to net-zero emission standards, including a specific rule that homes be pre-wired for rooftop solar panels. The purported goal is to cut the 23.4 percent of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions that come from heating buildings.
The proposal would increase housing costs at a time when affordability is a problem for many Washington residents. Mandating these new construction standards would impose very high costs while yielding small, theoretical environmental benefits in the future. Shifting from natural gas heating to electricity not only costs more, it increases pressure on the electric grid at a time when energy supply is becoming more intermittent and costly.
Legislators should consider the high cost of these proposed housing mandates, and look for alternatives that are more flexible, affordable, effective, and immediate to reduce state emissions.