Ten Towns to Require Electrification in New Construction


Ten Towns to Require Electrification in New Construction

Resource Person:

Douglas Quattrochi - Doug

[Start 0:00:00]

In this business update, we’ll be talking about a new electrification requirement signed into law August, this month, and basically that’s going to affect new construction and renovation.

House 5060, An Act Driving Clean Energy and Wind, was passed by both Houses and signed by the governor this month. It’s basically going to start a pilot program at the Department of Energy Resources, which will permit 10 towns and cities to require electrification, meaning you can’t use gas, oil, or other fossil fuels in buildings.

Ten towns have already submitted a pilot, and the pilot is going to be limited to 10 towns, so it looks like it could be full, except for the fact that the Department of Energy Resources has been encouraged to refuse applications from towns that don’t have a lot of rental housing because the legislature are really concerned that preventing the use of gas especially in multifamily construction is going to drive housing costs up and contribute to further rental housing scarcity. This pilot maybe amended if Boston, Worcester, or another gateway city submits a petition to be part of it.

Basically here’s the goal in Massachusetts. The law requires us to be net zero emissions by 2050, so anything that’s burned now especially for heat is going to have to be replaced with a heat pump or an alternative source or an offset.

We’ve done an entire webinar on this, showing not just concerns you may have but also the business opportunity here. A Zero Emissions Retrofit webinar is live on the site at this QR code, and you can look at it.

Let me just show you briefly what this law actually looks like. You can read it for yourself at malegislature.gov. It is House 5060, and it starts line 1854 Section 83. So they define fossil fuel-free as not using anything related to fossil fuels and they talk about how a local town or city has to approve this, so you have an opportunity to provide input if your town is considering joining this pilot and adjusting the list of 10 communities so that one currently listed is not on it anymore. You can provide input at that town or city meeting.

Basically, it’s a demonstration pilot program, and it’s only going to affect new construction or major renovation. You know how if you renovate more than 50 percent of a floor area of a building, you maybe required to put in sprinklers, that kind of renovation. You’ll have to put in line sets for heat pumps or ducting for heat pump that has air handlers associated with it.

We’re going to do 10 towns only, so there are 350 towns in Massachusetts, and we’re only going to pick 10, and we’re going to pick the 10 that have already met their obligation to provide affordable housing in the Commonwealth or have a multifamily as a right zone. You can read it later if you’re interested, but basically there’s a lot of restrictions here. The Department of Energy Resources has to include actual rental housing communities in the pilot.

The intent seems to be to start within 18 months, around February 2024, so it could be implemented more quickly and one of the towns is already on the list of 10 that does meet its affordable housing requirements, but it could also be delayed for everybody, so we’re not sure exactly when it’s going to start, but sometime between now and February 2024, plenty of time to update your project plans if you haven’t yet broken ground. If you have already, probably it will be complete before you actually have to worry about changing anything. There’s an intended ramp-up here.

Just to note here that separately the Department of Energy Resources is working on a Stretch Energy Code, which can still be enforced in towns that participate in the pilot and in towns that don’t, so they’re just clarifying that this doesn’t any impact the Stretch Energy Code. There’s going to be data collection. Again, it looks like intended to be ramped up over the next two years. September 30, 2024, is when the first reports are due, and we’re going to look and see if people who live in zero emissions homes actually pay more for to operate them and look at the emissions as well compared to homes that were built using current especially gas technology.

One final note; the law does not particularly say that the pilot program should be expanded. It says we’re going to look at whether to continue it, not expand it, just continue it, or terminate it. This is a very tandem step forward. It’s not a cause for concern, and if you look at that Zero Emissions Retrofit webinar we have posted, you’ll see the business opportunity here, so it’s something to learn about and be aware of and work towards.

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