Progress on energy efficiency legislation

By Ben Hellerstein
State Director

It's often been said that the first step toward 100% renewable energy is to use energy more efficiently.

That's why I'm thrilled that the Legislature's energy committee approved four bills to reduce wasted energy last week, among the first energy legislation to advance this year.

These bills include:

  • An Act establishing building energy performance standards, filed by Senator Becca Rausch and Representative Maria Robinson, would establish energy efficiency standards for existing buildings with more than 15,000 square feet of gross floor area. The building code requires new buildings to be constructed to a minimum standard for energy efficiency, but there are currently no statewide requirements for existing buildings to become more efficient.
  • An Act establishing a study of energy efficient options for low income households, filed by Senator Brendan Crighton, Representative Natalie Higgins, and Representative Andy Vargas, would direct the state to conduct a study on the effectiveness of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean transportation programs in serving low-income families. It would also establish a pilot program to retrofit low-income housing to be net zero energy buildings.
  • An Act relative to Energy Savings Efficiency, known as the Energy SAVE Act, filed by Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Josh Cutler, would set minimum energy and water efficiency standards for commercial and household appliances. By 2025, the proposed standards would prevent 159,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, the equivalent of taking 34,565 cars off the road.
  • An Act to encourage the deployment of heat pumps, filed by Senator Mike Barrett, would set targets for the adoption of heat pumps and other clean technologies to provide heating, cooling, and water heating for buildings. It would also amend the state building code to require new construction to be built to accommodate the installation of heat pumps.

Environment Massachusetts has advocated for three of these bills as part of our 100% Renewable Energy Agenda, a set of 15 bold proposals to reduce energy consumption and increase the adoption of renewable energy across all parts of our lives.

We're proud to partner with other organizations to advance these bills, including Massachusetts Climate Action Network, Green Energy Consumers Alliance, Appliance Standard Awareness Project, and National Consumer Law Center.

Now that these bills have been approved by the energy committee, the next step is consideration by the Senate Ways & Means Committee before going on to a vote by the full Senate and House. (For the first three bills on the list above, the Senate versions of the legislation have advanced, while the House versions are still being held in the energy committee.)