Healey: Requirement for all-electric construction within the limits of the new law

The ability for a municipality to require all-electric new construction was not part of the Baker administration’s proposed changes to the state’s building code aimed at encouraging builders to ditch fossil fuel heating in favor of. electrification, but Attorney General Maura Healey told the administration he has the legal authority to propose such a policy.

Administration updates to the existing extended code and its new specialized net-zero extended code for cities and towns to adopt would keep gas-heated buildings to higher efficiency standards, but would not allow cities and villages to eliminate their construction. The senses. Cynthia Creem and Michael Barrett told the Department of Energy Resources they think the proposal “falls short” and Barrett’s office pointed to a handful of cities – Lexington, Concord, Brookline, Arlington and Acton – that want to pursue policies decarbonization beyond what the DOER proposal would allow.

“The Straw Proposal prohibits a city or town from mandating all-electric new construction, even after local authorities allow for vigorous analysis and debate. For municipalities in Massachusetts and other progressive states, all-electric construction is the preferred strategy to decarbonize new buildings. Prohibiting communities from using it would be a significant setback,” the senators wrote to DOER about a month ago.

By the March 18 deadline for public comment, Healey said his office had “filed comments with DOER confirming that it has the authority to create a special opt-in energy code under the the climate that will give municipalities the ability to impose all-electric requirements.”

In supporting his position, Healey pointed to his office’s 2020 disapproval of a Brookline settlement that would have prohibited the issuance of building permits for the construction of certain buildings with fossil fuel infrastructure and his office’s rejection in February. 2022 of two amendments to Brookline’s bylaws that would have regulated buildings based on whether or not they included “on-site fossil fuel infrastructure.”

“[T]he statutory regime established by the Climate Act is structured to expressly empower municipalities that choose to do so to opt into a specialized code once enacted and thereby act in accordance with state law. Although this approach may result in differences in requirements from one municipality to another, this approach is by express legislative design in the Climate Act and is implemented through a uniform building code of the building code. ‘State,’ Healey wrote. “Further…the AGO specifically noted in Brookline’s 2022 decision that, while the rule changes at issue were anticipated, “the adoption of a specialized expanded statewide energy code , as required by the law creating a next-generation roadmap”. for Massachusetts climate policy, Section 31 would alter this analysis for future regulations.

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