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Washington just became the first state in the country to mandate that newly constructed buildings be outfitted with all-electric space heating and hot water systems. 

The State Building Code Council voted 11-to-3 on Friday to adopt a revised energy code that requires most new commercial buildings and large multifamily buildings to install electric heat pumps. The Council will consider a similar proposal for smaller residential buildings later this year. 

Heat pumps are an extremely energy-efficient technology that can extract heat from the outside air, even on very cold days, and pump it inside to provide space heating. They can also run in reverse and provide cooling in the summer. The revised code also mandates the use of heat-pump hot water heaters.

The news comes shortly after another high-profile effort to ban gas in new buildings in New York State was dropped during tense budget negotiations in early April. 

About 10 percent of U.S. carbon emissions come from burning fossil fuels like natural gas for heating and cooking. Many climate advocates want to see all buildings eventually transition to appliances that can be powered by ... Read more

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