Washington State Legislature has set a goal to reduce state carbon emissions to year 1990 levels by 2020. One clear obstacle to this goal is the fact that emissions from buildings alone has risen 50% since 1990, making them the second largest contributor of greenhouse gases in the state. As Washington makes strides towards reducing carbon emissions in the transportation and electricity sectors, the progress is offset by the nearly 20 million metric tons emitted from fossil fuel use in buildings in a single year.
To combat this, and help Washington achieve their emission reduction goals, the Washington State House of Representatives has passed the Clean Buildings for Washington Act. The act establishes energy efficiency standards for large commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet and for natural gas utilities. Together, these measures will reduce carbon emissions by 4.3 million metric tons by 2035.
Only 6% of buildings in Washington state are greater than 50,000 square feet, but they make a disproportionately large contribution to carbon emissions from the built environment. To ease the burden on building owners, energy efficiency upgrades will not be required unless the investment will pay for itself in decreased utility spending. Additionally, the Clean Buildings Act allocates $75 million in incentives to support the requisite up front financial investments for buildings that require major capital improvements.
Read more in a Seattle Times op-ed supporting passage.
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