Center Square WA: Washington officials remove heat pump mandate, maintains natural gas ban
The Washington Energy Code Council has revised its mandate on the inclusion of heat pumps in new residential constructions, but has maintained regulations which some believe effectively bans the use of natural gas.
The Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) expressed concerns that the new codes unnecessarily restrict access to natural gas, resulting in increased housing costs without significant energy efficiency improvements. The decision to delay the code implementation was influenced by a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which found that federal laws override state and local restrictions on natural gas use.
Meanwhile, the council’s altered code updates call for more compliance credits, making the use of natural gas for heating purposes potentially cost-prohibitive. Environmental advocates, however, see these changes as progressive, emphasizing the benefits of building electrification for health, climate, and job creation.
“Unfortunately, the State Building Code Council continues to ignore federal law and public opinion,” Lane said in the statement.
Washington’s building industry has opposed the new code not just for the natural gas restrictions but also for the mandated installation of heat pumps in residential dwellings. While more energy efficient than other heating and cooling devices, they constituted a higher upfront cost that they claim would drive up the cost of housing.
The Washington Energy Code Council’s insistence on restrictive codes, despite clear opposition and concerns over housing costs, showcases a lack of consideration for both federal law and the broader needs of Washington residents.