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Washington Becomes First State to Mandate Building Electrification

All new commercial buildings will be required to use heat pumps for heating and cooling beginning in 2023.   June 24, 2022


By Greg Zimmerman, senior contributing editor


As solar and wind become an increasingly larger part of our total electricity generation picture, and natural gas becomes more expensive and in shorter supply, many facilities are looking toward building electrification, both as a money-saving strategy, but also to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Recently, Washington state became the first to require building electrification for all new commercial buildings. This means new facilities will be required to use heat pumps to heat and cool new facilities. The changes to the building code take effect in 2023.  

The building code update to require electrification is part of Washington’s overall climate plan, according to Canary Media. Currently, buildings account for 27 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), hailed the move to require electrification.  

“The decision was a no-brainer as electrifying commercial buildings is a win for Washingtonians and the planet,” said Jonny Kocher, senior associate with RMI. “RMI found that heat pumps are 2-4 times as efficient as gas burning appliances and don’t impact customers’ utility bills. Unlike gas furnaces and water heaters, they do not emit dangerous combustion emissions, benefiting public health. And they reduce earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions by utilizing Washington's already clean electricity grid, which will only get cleaner.” 

Greg Zimmerman is senior contributing editor for FacilitiesNet.com and Building Operating Management magazine. 

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