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Sweeping New Massachusetts Climate Law Aims to Decarbonize Property Sector

Massachusetts has become one of the latest states to pass a comprehensive climate bill that will, among other things, require annual energy usage reports from buildings that are 20,000 square feet or larger. The state’s legislature recently passed the legislation that was unsurprisingly supported by environmental advocates and also includes a slate of building and transportation electrification measures.

One of the bill’s most controversial aspects includes a provision that gives 10 municipalities the ability to ban fossil-fuel hookups in new construction. Only cities that have met the state’s 10 percent affordable housing target qualify for this provision, and the rules don’t apply to healthcare facilities and life science labs. If the legislation is signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker, participating municipalities must collect and report detailed data about carbon emissions reductions, construction costs, and utility bills.

The sweeping legislation still must be signed by Gov. Baker, and it supports the state’s efforts to reduce statewide carbon emissions 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Gov. Baker has until August 11th to sign or veto the bill, and he’s apparently wavering because of the part of the bill that bans natural-gas hookups in some new construction. “One of the big decisions we have to make is whether my concerns about that particular piece, which cuts at something I think anybody would agree is a very significant problem in Massachusetts, overwhelm the rest of the good the bill does,” the Governor said.

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