By Milena Bimpong, HeatSmart Intern
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: one building at a time
The buildings that we enter and leave every day - whether for school, work, or other purposes - greatly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Read about the New York State Senate bill that aims to change this!
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) stated that 74% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2019 came from fossil fuels. Buildings play a major role in these emissions - according to Architecture 2030, buildings emit nearly 40% of global carbon dioxide annually, with 28% coming from operations and 11% from materials and construction.
Moving away from fossil fuel infrastructure and transitioning to clean energy is crucial for mitigating climate change, which is impacting our planet at an alarming rate. The NY State Senate Bill S6843A, also known as the "All-Electric Building Act," aims to take a step in the right direction.
What is the "All-Electric Building Act"?
The bill (S6843A), sponsored by Senator Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn) and Assemblymember Emily Gallagher (D-Brooklyn), only allows permits for the construction of a new building to be issued if the building will be all-electric after December 31st, 2023.
What does the timeline look like for the All-Electric Building Act?
The original bill was introduced in May 2021 and was amended in October 2021. The bill is currently in the Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee. Advocates are pushing for the bill to be passed during the 2022 legislative session.
What does "all-electric" mean?
All-electric buildings use electricity solely for space heating, cooking, and hot water. The electric power grid powers all-electric buildings. New York's power grid is already relatively low carbon, and New York has set a goal for a 100% renewably powered grid by [some date].
Why go all-electric?
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), about 29% of U.S. end-use energy consumption in 2020 came from residential and commercial sectors. The energy consumption in most U.S. buildings comes from these two sectors. Since this is more than a quarter of the total end-use energy consumption, electrification will significantly reduce fossil fuel emissions in the U.S.
What is the purpose of this bill?
This bill aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and indoor air pollution in new buildings, which will reduce New York State's emissions overall. Further, this bill will send a strong market signal in favor of heat pumps for all NYS buildings.
How will this bill impact New York State?
Electrifying buildings is a major step towards achieving the goals of the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which was signed into law in July 2019. Some goals of this law include achieving 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040 and an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The New York State Climate Action Council created a Scoping Plan that outlines recommendations to achieve these goals.
How will this bill impact the United States?
With this bill cementing New York as a leader in mitigating climate change, other states may also begin to follow suit with similar legislation. The Biden administration aims to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 50-52% from 2005 levels by 2030, reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, limit global warming to 1.5°C, and reach 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035. Electrifying buildings contributes to achieving all of these goals. According to the Biden administration, electrification in buildings also has positive economic impacts, such as creating jobs.
If this bill is passed, when will it take effect?
If passed, it will take effect immediately.
What can I do to support this bill as a New York State resident?
The Renewable Heat Now campaign is sponsoring an Unfrack NYS Homes & Buildings 2022 Legislation town hall on Wednesday, December 1st, from 6-7 p.m., which is open for all to attend.
Can't join on Wednesday, but want to be involved? Sign up using this form.
Show your support: Sign this petition.
Where can I find more information?
You can read the full text of the bill here. In addition, you can find information about New York's climate action initiatives here, where you can sign up to receive email updates about New York State climate news and developments.