Forget gas, clean energy would save money for all
Bravo to Naghmana Sherazi for her March 23 guest opinion, “Forget gas, clean energy would save money for all.” As she says, the scientific community agrees that fossil methane is cooking our climate, so we must phase out methane to heat buildings. Like Naghmana, I hope Washington’s State Building Codes Council requires cleaner alternatives.
Methane heats our climate 86 times faster than CO2 does. It is vented and leaked into our air at huge rates by the oil and gas industry, which we now track by the fossil methane’s unique chemical signature and better monitoring, constantly revealing worse emissions than we feared. Buildings account for 24% of Washington’s carbon emissions; they are easily the fastest growing emissions source; and most of this comes from gas heating.
That’s why gas hookups are now outlawed in new buildings across growing scores of U.S. cities and counties, including Washington’s Seattle, Bellingham and Shoreline, with Tacoma and King County following soon. Instead of gas furnaces in new construction, these places require electric heat pumps that provide reliable, low-cost heat without making much of the Earth unlivable as fossil methane is doing.
Modern cold-rated heat pumps work beautifully in Spokane’s climate, running on the Northwest’s ever-cleaner electricity. They also provide air conditioning as well as heating, saving money while keeping people safe in deadly summer heat waves that will only grow worse.
Requiring heat pumps in construction is one of the simplest, cheapest ways to deal with the climate mess on multiple levels. Let’s get with the times.