Montgomery County Council unanimously passed Maryland’s first comprehensive building decarbonization legislation.
Earlier today, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to pass Bill 13-22, Buildings – Comprehensive Building Decarbonization, which will require the County Executive to issue all-electric building standards for new construction by Dec. 31, 2026. The legislation, introduced by Councilmember Hans Riemer and cosponsored by Councilmember Will Jawando, is the first of its kind in Maryland.
“This legislation, combined with cleaning up the electricity grid and retrofitting existing buildings, will bend the curve on emissions from our building sector, which produce over 50 percent of our total emissions,” said Councilmember Riemer. “Fully electric buildings are less costly to operate over the life cycle of the building and healthier for indoor air quality since they do not produce carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide as byproducts, pollutants that have been shown to contribute to asthma in children and disproportionately affect communities of color. Montgomery County will now be a national leader in the push for electrification as a solution for climate change.”
“Electrifying Montgomery County is a crucial step toward addressing our climate crisis,” said Councilmember Jawando. “Under Bill 13-22, new construction will be cheaper to build, cheaper to operate and safer for residents. This bill is truly a win-win for our environment, our residents and our future.”
The legislation ensures the County’s buildings are built for a decarbonized energy future and addresses the County’s biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which come from its building sector.
The all-electric requirements will require systems and processes in new construction to use electricity rather than fossil fuels. When paired with renewable energy, all-electric systems have zero emissions, save money and improve indoor air quality in buildings and homes.
Full electrification has been a significant part of the conversation around reducing emissions and lessening the impacts of climate change. MACo recently published a deep dive on full electrification and its challenges. Electrification is a two-part problem: fully electrifying structures and generating electricity with little to no emissions. This bill aims to solve the first part, although there will need to be follow-up legislation to address existing structures if the County is to completely eliminate fossil fuel use.
This legislation does not address the second part, power generation. Nationally a significant amount of power is generated from fossil fuels. In Maryland, nuclear is the largest source of power generation. Without completely transitioning to renewable and alternative energy sources, electrification only moves the source of pollution instead of reducing it. The bill, while historic, is only the first step in a long road ahead.