After a month of hotly debated budget talks, New York passed its 2024 fiscal year budget late Tuesday night, and with it, took a long-awaited step towards decarbonizing New York’s building sector. The budget deal includes first-in-the-nation legislation to ban fossil fuel-powered appliances and heating in certain new buildings across the state by 2026 and all new buildings by 2029, effectively mandating the electrification of new buildings. New York is the first state to enact such a ban, though municipalities across the country have sought to do so with varying degrees of legal challenge. While environmental groups supported the passage of New York’s gas ban, some say the ban does not go far enough to achieve New York’s statewide targets of reducing emissions by 40% by 2030 and no less than 85% by 2050, as required by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”).
The gas ban, which was first proposed by Governor Hochul in her recommendations on the Climate Action Council’s Scoping Plan, is effectuated through amendments to the State Energy Conservation Construction Code and Uniform Code (the “Codes”). Specifically, the gas ban legislation requires that the Codes prohibit the installation of fossil-fuel equipment and building systems – including plumbing, heating, electrical, lighting, insulation, air conditioning, and refrigeration that uses fossil fuels – in:
- any new building not more than seven feet in height beginning December 31, 2025 (except for new commercial or industrial buildings greater than 100,000 square feet in conditioned floor area in existence prior to December 31, 2025); and
- all new buildings after December 31, 2028.
The ban does not prohibit the continued use and maintenance of fossil-fueled equipment—such as stoves and boilers – installed in existing or new buildings prior to the respective 2026 and 2029 effective dates.
The State Fire Prevention and Building Codes Council is further authorized to adopt additional exemptions from the gas ban. Such exemptions are limited to those circumstances where the Codes Council deems it appropriate to allow fossil-fuel powered appliances and heating necessary for the installation and use of generation of emergency backup power, in manufactured homes, and in buildings or parts of buildings used for manufacturing, commercial food establishments, laboratories, laundromats, hospitals and other medical facilities, and critical infrastructure such as backup power for wastewater treatment facilities.
Wherever an exemption is provided in the Codes, the continued use of fossil-fueled appliances and heating must be limited to the fullest extent possible to the systems and areas of the building where it is infeasible to apply the gas ban. If an otherwise exempt new building installs fossil-fuel equipment, such equipment must be installed to be “electrification ready” and must minimize emissions from such equipment to avoid adverse health, safety, security, and fire risks.
The New York League of Conservation Voters was a prime supporter of the gas ban, but suggested that nearer compliance dates would have been feasible – a criticism raised by other environmental groups who would have liked to see nearer compliance dates for new construction, particularly in light of the CLCPA’s 2030 and 2050 targets. As Governor Kathy Hochul stated in support of the ban:
Just like we had to, a long time ago, transition from coal as your energy source, we do have to transition. There are clean energy alternatives…It’s going to take time and I want to make sure that New Yorkers don’t get hit hard for the costs, so we’re going to roll this out. But new buildings that are going up, they can go electric, they can do heat pumps.
Meanwhile, a coalition of labor unions, business groups and gas companies lobbied against the gas ban, asserting that such measures would further increase energy costs for homeowners. Surely, the new residential building sector will be most affected by the gas ban, but how much homeowners and building owners will pay for electrified alternatives will depend in part on the availability of alternative technologies – such as heat pumps to replace fossil-fueled heating and cooling – and whether the State can remove the existing cost and permitting barriers that have thus far prevented such technologies from permeating the market. The Climate Action Council’s Scoping Plan identifies a range of measures needed to remove barriers to decarbonizing the building sector – New York’s gas ban is one of many steps on the path to 2030 and achieving the State’s zero-emissions buildings goal.