June 15, 2022

County Executive Elrich and Councilmember Riemer Partner on Maryland’s First Building Decarbonization Legislation

County Executive Elrich and Councilmember Riemer Partner on Maryland’s First Comprehensive Building Decarbonization Legislation

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Councilmember Hans Riemer this week announced introduction of the Comprehensive Building Decarbonization legislation. Bill 13-22, which will now be considered by the County Council, would require the County to issue all-electric building standards for new construction, major renovations and additions by Jan. 1, 2024. The legislation is the first of its kind in Maryland.

The legislation would ensure all-electric building standards become part of the County’s building code guaranteeing construction be primed for a zero-greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions future.

The joint announcement was made at Hillandale Gateway, an all-electric, mixed-use future development in Eastern Montgomery County. The Hillandale Gateway buildings are being designed to Passive House standards with high-performance elements that are extremely energy efficient while also creating comfortable and safe indoor environments.

“We need big, bold actions for our County to achieve zero-GHG emissions by 2035,” said County Executive Elrich. “The path to reaching our goals depends on the electrification of buildings and the shift toward a renewable grid. The Hillandale Gateway development is a prime example of forward-thinking building construction that is here in Montgomery County today.”

Building on the Climate Action Plan and the recently adopted Building Energy Performance Standards, the legislation addresses how energy is used in construction. By requiring the County to issue all-electric building standards, the legislation ensures the County’s buildings are built for a decarbonized energy future.

“The latest U.N. report on climate change delivered a stark warning, but also a path forward to avert calamity,” said Councilmember Riemer. “We need action—at all levels of government and society—now. This legislation, combined with cleaning up the electricity grid and retrofitting existing buildings, will go long way to reducing and eventually eliminating climate change causing emissions from our County’s building sector. The path forward is 100 percent electrification, and we are on our way.”

For more details on the legislation, see this memorandum.

Hillandale Gateway is one of the newest and greatest examples of a decarbonized and human health focused building. Designed by Nicholson Kovalchick Architects and built by The Duffie Companies, the Hillandale Gateway development will be all-electric and with rooftop solar designed to produce as much energy as it consumes.

The all-electric requirements will require systems and processes in new construction, major renovations and additions to use electricity, not fossil fuels (e.g., natural gas, oil, propane), for end uses. When paired with renewable energy, all-electric systems have zero emissions, save money and improve indoor air quality in our homes and places of work. By contrast, natural gas systems, such as stoves, have been found to produce carbon monoxide. They also have shown to produce other harmful pollutants related to diseases such as childhood asthma, which are not produced by their electric counterparts.

The bill contains exemptions for systems that require combustion for safety, resiliency or are not yet economically viable. These include emergency and backup systems, as well as certain uses such as life sciences, manufacturing and commercial kitchens.