Our homes, offices, public buildings, community centers, and hospitals all contribute to damaging climate pollution through the use of fracked gas, inefficient heating and cooling systems, climate polluting materials, and leaky windows, walls and roofs. We are working to find ways to invest in retrofitting these existing buildings to bring them up to the 21st century and ensure that all Washingtonians have access to clean, efficient living spaces.
By retrofitting buildings, we have the opportunity to generate clean energy jobs, lower utility costs, and reduce emissions. This includes removing fracked gas from buildings and deeply updating our existing buildings. We can prioritize these types of efforts by expanding our weatherization programs, ensuring that our public dollars are maximized when maintaining and retrofitting our buildings, and sequencing investments so they go first to frontline communities who are most impacted by pollution.
Every time a new building is constructed – be it a public or privately owned facility – we have the chance to make sure it is built with low-carbon materials, incorporates the most efficient and climate friendly technology, creates good family-wage jobs, and supports in-state manufacturers. And critically, done in a way that does not displace lower income communities and communities of color. We can make this vision a reality through passing laws such as Buy Clean, Buy Fair, continuing to improve our building codes, and working in solidarity with communities of color to address the inequities in the built spaces where we work and live.
A clean energy transformation includes transitioning off fracked gas across our economy, including the built environment. This means ensuring new facilities are not plumbed for fracked gas, that building retrofits include ways to transition off gas appliances, and that our policies remove preferences for gas. The State’s 2021 Energy Strategy, which lays out a robust, equitable set of policies and actions for achieving our state’s greenhouse gas emission targets, points to the urgent need to decarbonize our buildings stock. Achieving this outcome requires a multi-faceted approach, utilizing all our tools from building codes, to deep energy efficiency investments, to clean and affordable alternatives to gas.
Learning lessons from our past, especially around gas, is key to enabling Washington transition off gas and towards cleaner energy sources. In the past, climate advocates looked to gas as a game-changer, believing at the time it was better for our climate. This has proven deeply incorrect. Not only is it dangerous for our climate, it is dangerous to indoor air quality and public health. We are now in the position of pushing back against the gas industry and working to retool our built environment away from gas. As we do this, it is important to not jump to new technology without adequate adaptive management and evaluation of these alternatives.