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Massachusetts Steps Up Energy-Saving Policies in Major Climate Law

March 26, 2021
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Sets Appliance Efficiency Standards and Sets Path for Strong Building Codes

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In a far-reaching climate bill scheduled to be signed today, Massachusetts commits to halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, while embracing new energy-saving policies to help achieve the targets. The law sets efficiency standards for 17 residential and commercial products and directs the state government to develop a stringent building code that municipalities may adopt to dramatically cut energy waste in new homes and buildings.

“Reducing our total energy use is a key step in tackling climate change. These efficiency standards are going to cut needless energy waste and most households and businesses won’t even notice until they see lower bills,” said Marianne DiMascio, state policy manager for the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP). “Local advocates and lawmakers persisted for years to get these standards done. Representative Josh Cutler and Senator Jason Lewis deserve tremendous credit for sponsoring this key provision.”

Slated to be signed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, the law sets efficiency standards for products including computers, water coolers, and commercial cooking equipment. The standards will save Massachusetts consumers and businesses more than $100 million on their utility bills in 2025 alone, with greater savings each year as consumers purchase more efficient products. By 2025, they will cut carbon dioxide emissions by an amount equivalent to taking 24,000 cars off the road. Massachusetts is the 9th state or jurisdiction to adopt appliance efficiency standards since 2017.

The law also aims to strengthen building codes to make new homes and buildings more energy efficient. It directs the state’s Department of Energy Resources to develop a “stretch” energy code for net-zero energy buildings, which municipalities could choose to adopt.

“Massachusetts is setting a leading path forward on climate for others to join. We’re going to need more states to step up to this level, quickly,” said Bryan Howard, state policy director for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). “Moving toward building codes that ensure new buildings use zero net energy is critical, especially because most buildings are around for decades or more. Developing a strong code that enables municipalities to go net zero will be critical for the Department of Energy Resources now.”

The law also includes important provisions to better ensure that strategies for reducing emissions are equitable:

  • Directs the Department of Public Utilities to consider equity as it works to meet state greenhouse gas reduction targets.
  • Orders the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to create a clean energy equity workforce and market development program to support employment opportunities for certified minority- and women-owned small business and individuals living in environmental justice communities.
  • Establishes protections for low- and moderate-income individuals and environmental justice populations in meeting emissions reduction plans.

The law mandates the development of interim targets for adopting energy-saving technologies and implementation plans to meet them, including deployment goals for electric vehicles, electric vehicle charging stations, and air-source heat pumps.

Massachusetts scored second place in ACEEE’s most recent State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, published in December 2020. The state had been the top scorer or tied for the top score the previous nine years.

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Appliance/Equipment Standards Building Policies and Codes

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Ben Somberg
Senior Communications Manager
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