MCAN is excited to share our legislative priorities that focus on housing as climate solutions and cleaning our public energy grid. Our existing buildings are a problem -- they are the primary source of carbon emissions, drafty and inefficient, with poor indoor air quality due to fossil-fuel based appliances. MCAN is prioritizing bills on retrofitting housing so that people live in safe, efficient and healthy homes. MCAN is also prioritizing bills that make it easier to establish new public utility districts and give municipalities access to resources for public utility energy efficiency programs.
MCAN worked with many of our partner organizations and coalitions on developing these bills. We expect to expand this list as co-sponsors take on bills.
Housing is a Climate Solution
- GREEN Initiative / HD 3029. This bill establishes a housing retrofit program for low- and moderate-income households in Gateway Cities and smaller communities of need. Phase 1 will fund demonstration projects in each Gateway City to create local awareness and Phase 2 will scale up retrofit programs for 8 years out. The Department of Energy Resources will administer the program. Read the Fact Sheet here. (Sponsor is Rep. Higgins, 4th District/Worcester; developed in collaboration with Environment Mass).
- Building Justice with Jobs / HD 3338 / SD 2102. This bill targets a million retrofits over the next decade, making homes able to be retrofitted and retrofitting homes to be more energy efficient, while also creating jobs, with strong worker protections, to meet the retrofit target. Retrofitting homes in Environmental Justice communities will be prioritized. A Buildings Justice with Jobs Task Force, created in the Department of Housing and Community Development, will expand the Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program services and Mass Save programs. Funding the retrofits and jobs program will come from federal stimulus dollars and the redistribution of existing state funds. (Co-sponsors are Sen. Pacheco, 1st District/Plymouth and Bristol and Rep. Robinson, 6th District/Middlesex; developed in conjunction with the Mass Renews Alliance, formerly known as the Green New Deal Table).
Clean the Grid
- An Act transitioning Massachusetts to clean electricity, heating and transportation, SD 2205/HD3551. This bill (known as the 100% Clean Act) will transition the state to 100% clean energy for electricity by 2035 and 100% clean energy for the building sector (heating) and transportation sector by 2045. 1 million homes and 3 million square feet of commercial space will be retrofitted. A trust fund will be created to offset costs for residents switching to new technologies. Municipal light plants are directed to provide a minimum percentage of Class 1 renewables over time (80% by 2035) and to file plans by 2023 to make this happen. Biomass and trash incineration are excluded as non-emitting, clean energy sources. (Co-sponsors Sen. Boncore, First Suffolk and Middlesex District and Rep. Decker, 25th Middlesex District; developed by Environment Mass and supported in collaboration with Mass Power Forward coalition). You can watch the 100% Clean Briefing to learn more!
- An Act removing barriers for Municipal Power Communities to become Green Communities, HD3858/SD2355. This bill permits municipalities in municipal light plant districts to become Green Communities without requiring the entire municipal light plant district to become a Green Community. This bill creates pathways for funding and resources to support clean energy and energy efficiency programs offered by municipal light plants. (Sponsored by Sen. Eldridge, Middlesex and Worcester Districts).
MCAN continues to work in solidarity with Environmental Justice organizations and the Environmental Justice Legislative Table that is co-convened by Neighbor to Neighbor and Green Roots Chelsea. Bills we are supporting as allies with Environmental Justice organizations are listed below. You can also watch the Environmental Justice Bills Briefing to learn more!
- An Act Relative to Energy Facilities Siting Reform to Address Environmental Justice, Climate, and Public Health / SD.1418/HD.3679.
- An Act to Create Access to Justice / SD.1893/HD.1968.
- An Act to improve outdoor and indoor air quality for communities burdened by transportation pollution / SD.1742/HD.2696.
The Next Generation Climate Bill (S.9)
MCAN also supports the passage of the Next Generation Climate Bill (S. 9), the climate bill from the previous session. MCAN has four asks of the Legislature when they reconsider the climate bill.
1. Keep the Environmental Justice language proposed by Governor Baker. Gov. Baker strengthened Environmental Justice language by acknowledging the disproportionate burden of climate change on low-income and communities of color. Protecting Environmental Justice communities now, as we begin to recover from COVID-19, is a crucial part of the climate response.
2. Keep the original Net Zero stretch code language in S.9 and reject the Governor’s proposed amendment. We are disappointed to see the Governor reject the Net Zero stretch code language in the original bill. We need healthy, sustainable, and affordable housing in the Commonwealth, and we need a Net Zero stretch code to get us there!
Emissions from buildings represent a significant portion of the state's total and the construction of new buildings represents a long-term commitment to the heating and cooling technologies used. Most buildings constructed in the next decade will exist in the 2030’s and 2040’s and will need to be retrofitted at great cost. We cannot afford to lock-in our buildings as inefficient, heavy carbon emitters. This is why it was disappointing to see the Governor reject the Net Zero stretch code language in the original bill.
A recent report released by the design industry non-profit organization, Built Environment Plus, summarized cost data of Net Zero projects in Massachusetts. The report found that:
- Net Zero and Net Zero Ready building stock already exceeds 5 million square feet and is growing at an exponential rate in the Commonwealth even today.
- 87% of the projects reported <1% construction cost premiums were needed to achieve Net Zero Ready status.
- Net Zero Buildings designs include a wide range of building types, including K-12, higher education, healthcare, laboratory, office, single-family and multi-family.
3. Keep clarifications made by the Baker Administration that the new stretch code code is opt-in only and should be incorporated into the base code by 2028. This is in-line with the original intent of the Net Zero stretch code as an opt-in municipal pathway. By accepting this amendment while retaining the original net zero stretch code language, the Legislature has the opportunity to ensure that all new construction in MA is built to a healthier, safer, zero emissions standard by 2028.
4. Keep the original emissions reduction targets in S.9 and reject Gov. Baker’s amendment. Governor Baker has reduced the 2030 and 2040 emissions targets in S.9, which is not in line with our goal to decarbonize as quickly as possible. For a clean and livable future, we must set a 50% emissions reduction goal by 2030 and a 75% emissions reduction goal by 2040.
We have updated our Net Zero Stretch Code Advocacy Toolkit with new scripts that reflect the Governor's suggested amendments. Take a look and contact your legislator to demand that they urgently pass a climate bill that includes strong protections for Environmental Justice communities and a strong Net Zero Stretch Code!
Be a Climate Leader. Contact your legislators today!