Some challenges to US climate action are obvious – like when Donald Trump boasts about leaving the international Paris agreement and rolling back pollution rules.
But many more play out behind the scenes. One of those is the battle over efforts to make America’s new homes and buildings more energy-efficient.
On one side are the city and state officials trying to go greener, and on the other are real estate developers and the natural gas industry.
The International Code Council, which like the World Series largely concerns Americans, met this week on updating the baseline codes that most states and cities adopt for new buildings. The council is reviewing about two dozen proposals that would, for example, require builders to install electrical outlets near gas stoves that may one day be replaced with electric ones; and to wire enough power to garages where people may one day want to plug in electric cars.
In the US, the energy used in buildings accounts for more than one-third of heat-trapping emissions, and reducing those emissions is key to the nation’s climate progress.
With the stakes high, climate advocates last year launched a campaign to make sure that more climate-minded officials – the ones that set energy and environment rules, in addition to those who enforce code – were involved in the normally obscure process.
The plan worked, and a slate of efficiency measures was approved.
Developers and gas utilities have not been pleased with the outcome.
The industries’ trade groups are appealing, calling the measures costly and premature. They are challenging the government officials’ online votes, saying the new voters were unfairly recruited and go against what committee members and in-person voters decided.
“The developers … they clearly wanted our point of view to be dismissed,” said Stacey Miller, the sustainability program