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Major US city mayor proposes plan to fundamentally change construction of new buildings: 'We can build an entire economy around it'

"We must ensure that the benefits … are accessible to all regardless of your zip code."

"We must ensure that the benefits ... are accessible to all regardless of your zip code."

Photo Credit: iStock

The Windy City could soon be much cleaner and cooler thanks to Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson's proposed plan to phase out gas-powered heating systems and appliances in new construction. 

Per Grist, The Clean and Affordable Buildings Ordinance, which Johnson introduced earlier this year, would go into effect within a year of being approved by the city council. 

"This is an opportunity not just to address climate, but we can build an entire economy around it," Johnson told the outlet.

The Chicago Building Decarbonization Policy Working Group first recommended eliminating gas hookups in new homes and buildings in a 2022 report

Experts determined that over 70% of Chicago's heat-producing gases come from buildings and their energy use, emphasizing the importance of switching to all-electric systems.

As Grist reported, the mayor and his allies see the move toward electrification in Chicago's new buildings as a chance to combat indoor air pollution and high energy bills. 

The Chicago Sun-Times detailed that the rule would enforce an indoor pollution standard that bans the use of dirty energy in new buildings measuring more than 10,000 square feet. 

In addition, the law would encourage people in older homes with gas-powered systems to adopt electric appliances by banning any substance that produces 25 kilograms (about 55 pounds) or more of carbon dioxide per million British thermal units of energy. 

While many people support the ruling, not everyone is on board. A spokeswoman for one of Illinois' most powerful unions believes the proposal will restrict Chicagoans' energy options.

"Homeowners should not have to choose affordability over going green," Kristine Kavanagh, a member of the International Union of Engineers Local 150, told Grist. "They should have options for both clean and affordable energy."

If the law passes, Chicago could become the first major Midwestern city to outlaw gas in new construction, which would help Illinois meet its goal of phasing out all dirty energy sources by 2050. 

Washington and New York have taken the lead by banning gas-powered appliances in new homes and buildings. Los Angeles and Berkeley also outlawed gas power in new construction, though a federal court struck down Berkeley's ban last year. 

If you want to switch to all-electric appliances — such as induction stoves, heat pumps, or solar panels — the Inflation Reduction Act could give you thousands of dollars in tax credits and rebates. 

"We must design better outcomes that work for every building type and every neighborhood across Chicago. We must ensure that the benefits of transitioning to clean energy sources are accessible to all regardless of your zip code," Angela Tovar, the city's chief sustainability officer, told Grist.

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