State Building Codes severely restrict, but still allow natural gas in limited situations
April 3, 2023
Washington’s newly adopted building codes severely restrict but still allow natural gas in limited situations in new residential construction. Approved by the State Building Code Council (SBCC), these new codes go into effect on July 1.
Despite misinformation, the codes did not ban natural gas in all cases.
Wondering what’s still allowed?
Natural gas in limited situations
The code requires heat pumps for space or water heating. You may still use natural gas for cooking, fireplaces or fire pits, lighting, clothes dryers and emergency power generators. You may also use natural gas in gas heat pumps or as a backup for electric heat pump water and space heaters.
Cascade Natural Gas has developed handy flow charts for the residential and commercial codes to help people navigate the 2021 Washington State Energy Code.
While we’re pleased homeowners and potential homeowners still have limited energy choice, the new codes drive up the cost of new construction at a time when the state faces a housing affordability crisis.
BIAW is approaching the new codes from two directions.
First, a unique alliance of labor, business, trade associations and homeowners has filed a lawsuit challenging the codes. The suit alleges the SBCC approved the rules without legislative authority and in direct violation of the state’s Administrative Procedure Act. It further alleges that the council ignored cost studies and feasibility reports in its decisions. It’s unlikely the courts will resolve this case before the new codes go into effect.
With that in mind, we’re making sure you have all the information you need to comply before the codes go into effect as planned. We will announce new codes compliance courses soon.
Call to Action: PSE’s natural gas ban eliminates all choice
While we’re unhappy with the latest building codes’ attack on energy choice, new legislation could make things even worse.
Puget Sound Energy is pushing a bill (HB 1589) that will slash land values, increase utility rates and cease providing natural gas to new customers as of June 30, 2023.
HB 1589 would:
- Ban all natural gas in all new construction within PSE’s service area on June 30 of this year
- End ALL natural gas service to current customers by 2050
- Increase rates for all PSE customers, hurting Washington’s most vulnerable. Don’t make families choose between heating and eating.
- Make current natural gas users convert their homes to all electrical
- Hurt Washington’s most vulnerable and energy burdened
- Force thousands of homeowners to pay for all new appliances, including fireplaces, water heaters, and stoves