Hot ways to stay cool: take our buildings all-electric

As I write this, I’m trying to stay cool in my very warm apartment, Yosemite is burning, and we’re in the middle of a nationwide, record-setting heat wave.

All-electric home technology is a cooling, climate solution.

We tend to think of heat waves being most dangerous when people are outside in the sun, but heat illnesses and deaths mostly impact people inside buildings who have preexisting health conditions, including heart and lung conditions and mental illness. Transitioning our homes and buildings to all-electric space and water heating technology, like heat pumps and heat pump hot water heaters, helps us clean up our air and provide summer cooling to protect our health. Cooling our planet and the spaces we live and work is a real win-win.

Washington set an example by passing the most climate-friendly statewide building energy codes in the country for new commercial and multi-family (four stories and above) buildings. These codes require all-electric space and water heating technology in new construction, ensuring our spaces are climate-friendly and heat and cool using our state’s 100% clean electricity. Now we have the chance to do the same for residential buildings and multi-family homes three stories and below.

Click here to take action

So what do these building codes do? The SBCC is considering a proposal to build new homes cleaner, healthier, and cooler  by requiring high efficiency appliances like heat pumps and heat pump hot water heaters, as well as better ventilation in kitchens with gas stoves. Cooling in buildings (such as from heat pumps) will be essential to keeping vulnerable people safe during increasingly extreme and deadly heat waves or wildfires, especially for homes that otherwise would not be able to afford air conditioning and for people who are bedridden, which puts them at the greatest risk of heat-related health impacts.

This opportunity to update and improve our building energy codes to incorporate the latest technologies comes up only once every three years. With climate change and air pollution continuing to increase, we can’t wait until 2025 for another shot at this. We need to make sure that Washington is doing everything possible to transition away from inefficient and unhealthy gas appliances, to create a more equitable and more sustainable future NOW.

I wish I had a heat pump right now!

Can you take action today to tell the State Building Code Council to move forward with proposed amendments to the Washington building code to electrify our residential buildings and transition our economy away from fossil fuels?

Please send your comment to the State Building Code Council now

Thank you for your dedication to climate justice and a fossil fuel free future for Washington.

Author Bio

Joëlle Robinson

Field Director, Climate Solutions

Joëlle engages community members and diverse constituencies—faith, health, youth, parents, business—to make their voices heard for climate solutions. She led the team of organizers to ensure we stopped any coal export from the U.S. West Coast over the past decade. On offense, she co-led the Field team to help pass the 100% Clean Electricity (Clean Energy Transition Act in 2019) and in 2022 collaborated with the Field team to ensure that all new buildings (commercial and residential) will be built with heat pumps per the State Building Code Council. She continues to conspire for good with them on many other local and state initiatives.

Joëlle was the Regional Outreach Coordinator of National Wildlife Federation where she focused on mobilizing hunters, anglers and concerned citizens around solutions to global warming. Previous work with Climate Solutions includes the NW Climate Connections partnership, serving as the Field Assistant for the successful Clean Cars campaign, and Field Director of the Renewable Fuel Standard, which passed in April 2006.

She previously served on the boards of Earth Ministry, Solar Washington, and Sierra Club Executive Committee. She’s currently President of the board of her 3 year-old!

Joëlle is Northwest born and raised who loves to hike, dance, travel and explore the natural world.

Her favorite quote is “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” —  Mary Oliver