The decision came last November, when the Washington State Building Code Council voted in favor of the mandate, making it one of the strongest building codes in the country for energy-efficient heat pumps.
Another reason they’re being lauded is because they don’t run on methane, a potent gas that traps heat in our atmosphere and causes our planet to overheat. Methane is also linked to a number of human health issues, including respiratory illness, memory loss, and heart disease.
The Council voted for the heat pumps following a 2021 state law that requires 45% in greenhouse gas pollution reductions by 2030 and 95% by 2050, compared with 1990 levels. The state is also required to increase energy efficiency in buildings by 70% by 2031.
“The State Building Code Council made the right choice for Washingtonians,” Rachel Koller, managing director of the green-building alliance Shift Zero, said in a statement. “From an economic, equity and sustainability perspective, it makes sense to build efficient, electric homes right from the start.”
An influx of transplants to Washington in recent years has led to a 50% increase in planet-overheating gas pollution from buildings between 1990 and 2015 — the fastest-growing source in the state.
Across the country, lawmakers are making decisions like this to help move their municipalities away from dirty-energy-based heating systems. More than 90 cities and counties in the U.S. now have similar measures in place.
“It’s an exciting step forward toward meeting our goal to reduce greenhouse gases in our state,” Katy Sheehan, a council member who voted in favor of the heat pump mandate told Spokane’s Spokesman-Review. “I’m really happy that we did it.”