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Support for 'stretch code' to limit carbon started here

A town news release Nov. 30 says a letter from 30 municipalities, including Arlington, which launched the letter, signals strong support for state development of the most stringent building code.

Mass. Climate Action Network

On Nov. 29, chief executives and administrative officers from 30 municipalities submitted a letter to Secretary Katheleen Theoharides, an Arlington resident who is secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, indicating a unified commitment to a strong and effective net-zero stretch code, under development by the Department of Energy Resources.

The municipal opt-in net-zero stretch code was part of the Next Generation Roadmap bill signed by Gov. Baker last March. Buildings are the second largest source of carbon emissions in Massachusetts. Developing a new building code that requires new construction to have the highest levels of energy efficiency, be all electric and have renewable energy available on or off site is the most effective way to ensure buildings become a core climate-mitigation strategy for communities wanting to accelerate their transition to clean energy.

Once the net-zero municipal stretch code is developed by the state in consultation with the Board of Building Regulations and Standards, communities will have the option of adopting it by the end of 2022.

The letter was initiated by Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine and represents a unified commitment among Massachusetts’ municipalities to participate in state efforts to develop the municipal opt-in net-zero stretch code as required by the Next Generation Roadmap bill. The letter urges the Department of Energy Resources to develop a building code for new residential and commercial buildings, with the most energy efficient building envelopes and incentives for electrification.  

Municipal executives also called for giving local authority to prohibit gas infrastructure in new construction and major rehabilitation projects.  Prohibiting gas hook-ups has been a point of contention between municipalities wanting to accelerate mandates for emissions-free buildings and the Attorney General’s Office that continues to enforce existing state Gas Code law that preempts any municipality from imposing requirements that are not in line with the state plumbing board. 

As outlined in the Next Generation Roadmap bill, the Department of Energy Resources is required to hold 5 community meetings in diverse locations to solicit feedback to a draft code developed by the state agency.  The letter expressed great anticipation for an ambitious public process that will inform the development of the state’s most stringent building code.  

"I am proud to be part of this group of cities and towns that are asking for the opportunity to lead on climate mitigation in a bold manner," Chapdelaine, said in the release. "We understand that not every community is ready to adopt such measures, but some are, and those that are ready can serve as a proving ground for the whole Commonwealth.

Sarah Dooling, executive director of Massachusetts Climate Action Network, said: “This letter signals loud and clear to the Baker administration that these municipalities are ready to assist in developing a true net zero stretch building code. I am so pleased at this proactive approach. Going forward, I encourage all Massachusetts communities to participate in the DOER meetings to ensure the development of a true net zero stretch code. We can’t afford to leave anyone out of the transition to clean energy -- and these municipalities will lead the way.”  

Read the letter here. it includes the list of chief executives and administrative officers from the 30 municipalities that signed.  

Oct. 20, 2021: 'Horror' tour of Alewife Brook sewage outfalls leads to letter plea 

This news announcement, which includes a viewpoint, was published Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021.

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