Inslee proposal would chart a path to fossil fuel-free buildings in Washington


Jesse Piedfort, Washington state Chapter Director,

Caleb Heeringa, Senior Press Secretary, (425) 890-9744,


Today Gov. Jay Inslee announced a bold plan to address Washington state’s fastest-growing source of climate pollution: emissions from gas appliances in homes, schools and businesses.

The Healthy Homes & Clean Buildings bill charts a long-term path off “natural” gas in the building sector — a necessary step to achieve our state’s legal commitment to reduce our emissions by 95% by 2050. Multiple studies, including the Washington State Department of Commerce’s recently completed draft state energy strategy, have identified hooking buildings up to our increasingly clean electricity as the most cost-effective pathway to decarbonization.

The bill would:

  • Require that any new building constructed in 2030 or after must be zero carbon, with no gas used for space and water heating

  • Put the state on a path to decarbonize all of its buildings by 2050

  • Strengthen state building codes to incentivize electric appliances over gas

  • Create a heat pump and electrification program to support the use of clean electricity for space and water heating

  • Authorize public utilities to provide incentives for high-efficiency electric equipment, paving the way for utilities’ existing energy efficiency funds to be spent on climate-friendly appliances rather than gas.

  • Require utilities to fund programs to assist in the transition to clean energy, including transitioning their gas workers to new jobs.

  • Require utilities to align long-term plans for their gas systems with the state’s climate goals, and requires planning for an equitable transition away from gas in buildings

Sierra Club will work to ensure that this bill adopt these changes on a timeline that matches the urgency of the climate crisis, that the new jobs retrofitting buildings be prioritized in communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by fossil fuel pollution, and that these communities be the first to enjoy the indoor air quality benefits of new electric appliances. It’s also important that the bill continue to allow cities and counties to address building sector emissions at the local level, given efforts by the gas industry in other states to preempt local authority on building decarbonization strategies.

This bill would set a new standard for statewide efforts to address rising emissions from the building sector, building on momentum seen nationwide. More than 40 California cities have committed to phase out gas appliances and attorneys general and utility regulators in Massachusetts, California and New York are studying the future of their gas systems.

Inslee’s proposed capital budget also puts buildings-related climate action at the center of the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by:

  • Funding energy efficiency investments for 7,000 low-income residences to lower household energy burden, improve health and safety, and reduce climate pollution.

  • Retrofitting more than 200 public buildings to reduce facility operating costs, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and create high-quality construction jobs.

  • Investing in the next generation of all-electric buildings that produce clean energy on-site and integrate with the electricity grid, providing power for neighboring buildings and reducing demand for fossil fuels.

Jesse Piedfort, Director of the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club, issued the following statement:

“The science is clear: We can’t avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis without addressing the rapidly rising levels of pollution from gas appliances in our homes, schools and businesses. By embracing clean electricity in new construction and putting people to work moving existing buildings off fossil fuels, this proposal would put Washington state on a path to eliminate climate pollution from our buildings while creating cleaner and safer homes for the next generation. 

It’s important that communities of color who live with elevated levels of fossil fuel pollution are the first to benefit from this transition, that low-income residents can easily access cleaner appliances, and that city and county leaders be empowered to reduce buildings-related pollution at the local level. We look forward to working with legislators to pass one of the strongest state-level clean buildings packages in the nation.”


In Washington state, homes and buildings are the single fastest-growing source of carbon pollution, up 50 percent since 1990 -- and now cause 27% of Washington’s climate pollution, more than the industrial sector. This comes from gas burned in furnaces, water heaters, stoves and dryers. Thanks to Washington state’s abundance of clean, low-cost electricity, swapping out gas appliances for electric ones is a huge climate win, reducing the average household’s climate footprint by 50% - the equivalent of completely giving up your car. According to Washington’s Deep Decarbonization Pathway Study, the lowest cost pathway for achieving our state’s commitment to 80% carbon reductions economy-wide by 2050 relies on electrifying our buildings, reducing the residential sector’s use of gas by 85%. 

The transition will be a win for public health and safety, given that gas appliances create indoor air pollution that contributes to asthma symptoms in children, and are responsible for at least 430 deaths a year from carbon monoxide poisoning. On average, over the past 3 years (2016-2018), a gas pipeline incident has killed someone, sent someone to the hospital, and/or caused a fire and/or explosion once every 4 days nationwide.

A study by UCLA found that electrifying California’s buildings over the next 25 years would create 8 times as many jobs as may be lost in the gas industry, supporting an additional 100,000 full-time jobs in construction, manufacturing and the energy sector each year. Washington would expect to see jobs numbers for our state proportional to our population and housing stock. An analysis by the Rocky Mountain Institute found that all-electric homes in Seattle are more affordable to build due to avoided costs of installing gas pipelines.


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit