The Washington State Building Code Council is poised to do final votes on the adoption of the residential and commercial energy code proposals on November 4th. After the votes at this meeting, the adopted proposals will sit through a state legislative session before going into effect on July 1, 2023.

NWHPBA has been working on these proposals since they were initially proposed, arguing the need for gas to remain an option for supplemental heating. The threat to the availability of gas is through proposals that would incentivize the use of electric-only heat pumps and heat pump water heaters. The commercial code requires electric only, and the residential code allows gas appliances but then disincentivizes the use of these appliances through the credit options tables. These are the credits builders must acquire in the energy code in order to receive their permits to build.

NWHPBA members testified and sent in written comments. NWHPBA has submitted testimony as well and has been active with many other groups, including utilities, builders, and consumer groups who have been working to ensure gas can still be provided affordably to homes. There is nothing in the code that prohibits gas or propane fireplaces but the cost of running natural gas lines to new homes will create a situation where builders cannot afford to run these gas lines over time. If gas is already available, a fireplace can be installed.

According to the State Building Code Council, no more public comment will be taken on these codes. Our message is in, we just have to hope it has been heard. We do have several allies on the council who will be doing their best to fight the worst of the proposals. Several motions will be made to change proposals, including explicitly allowing high-efficiency gas heat pumps and heat pump water heaters to maintain the ability to run gas lines to homes.

After that, we go to the Legislature with bills to repeal or at least make sure natural gas is available to homes. This is where grassroots will be needed. In addition, two legal tracks are developing. We may find an opportunity to help with a union/contractor group that is developing a legal plan.

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