The Energy Consumer's Bulletin- a New England energy news blog

  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.

Rhode Island Must Get Serious About Decarbonizing Buildings

The Act on Climate is one of the strongest climate policies in the nation, mandating that Rhode Island reduce its emissions 45% by 2030 and net-zero by 2050. However, the law is not self-implementing. For the state to meet these targets, it must implement additional policies, especially in the building sector, which accounts for nearly 40% of the state's greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Despite this significant contribution to GHGs, Rhode Island lacks a clear, actionable plan to decarbonize buildings.

That is why our #1 priority this session was The Building Decarbonization Act (H-7617/S-2952). It would start to address emissions from buildings by requiring large buildings to report their energy usage and subsequently reduce their emissions, and by phasing in requirements for all-electric new construction. Read more about the bill here. In this blog, we provide an update on the bill's progress in the 2024 legislative session and discuss broader efforts to decarbonize the building sector.  


Senate Success! 

After working with various stakeholders, the Senate passed an amended bill that included the benchmarking & building performance standard section, and the electric readiness requirements for all buildings. The will would be a huge first step in decarbonizing our large existing building stock and setting new buildings up for success. Be sure to thank your Senator for their support! And thank you to our sponsor in the Senate, Senator Meghan Kallman, for leading the charge.


House Opted for EC4 Study 

The House, on the other hand, passed a different amended version of the bill (which the Senate subsequently also passed, in addition to their version) calling for the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4 – the inter-agency council responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Act on Climate) to create a report on how to implement benchmarking and building performance standards. While it’s disappointing that the House did not pass the policy outright, this report represents progress. We are confident the report will prove that benchmarking and building performance standards are critical for achieving the Act on Climate. It will get the ball rolling on building inventory and state planning. The legislature and governor must then follow through with passing and implementing the policy next session. We thank our House sponsor, Representative Rebecca Kislak, for all her hard work and look forward to making it a reality next year.

House and senate votes - building decarb


No More Delay 

Again, Rhode Island is not on track to achieve the emissions reductions mandated by the Act on Climate, especially in the building sector. It is imperative that benchmarking and building performance standards pass next session. These measures are vital and represent just one piece of the building decarbonization puzzle. To fully address emissions from buildings, we also need to support the electrification of residential homes and smaller buildings. Additional policies, such as a Clean Heat Standard, are needed to adequately reduce emissions from our built environment in line with the Act on Climate.


Thank you! 

Thank you to everyone who contacted their legislators and engaged with the Speaker and Governor’s offices. Your efforts have led to an actionable outcome with the EC4 report. As we look to the future, your continued support will be crucial in passing and implementing these critical policies. Together, we will get RI on track towards decarbonizing buildings. Onward!