Why the Gas Stove Debate Misses the Point

Banning gas-powered appliances is one part of a broader toolkit of changes in building codes that could vastly improve efficiency.

1 minute read

January 18, 2023, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Close-up of lit burner on gas stove with blue flames

Gokhan Y / Gas stove

The debate over gas stoves blew up—no pun intended—in the last week, but Daniel C. Vock argues that the focus on appliances overshadows other ways that building codes can promote efficiency. “Just revising the rules governing energy use in new construction can lead to sizable reductions in air pollution, advocates say, not to mention lower bills and a more comfortable environment for the people who live and work in the buildings.”

According to Vock, “The federal Energy Department estimates that if every state adopted the most recent model building codes for commercial and residential properties, it could reduce carbon dioxide pollution by 900 million metric tons by 2040.” The newest codes require added insulation, more efficient equipment, better lighting, and other changes that lower greenhouse gas emissions and often don’t add to construction costs.

Funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) can help states move toward updating their codes, Vock writes. “For example, the law provides $330 million in grants to state and local governments to adopt the latest residential and commercial codes. It sets aside more than twice that amount of money—$670 million—to develop ‘stretch codes’ that local governments can impose to develop ‘zero-energy’ buildings that produce enough renewable energy to offset their core energy use.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2023 in Route Fifty

Aerial view of homes on green hillsides in Daly City, California.

Depopulation Patterns Get Weird

A recent ranking of “declining” cities heavily features some of the most expensive cities in the country — including New York City and a half-dozen in the San Francisco Bay Area.

April 10, 2024 - California Planning & Development Report

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

A view straight down LaSalle Street, lined by high-rise buildings with an El line running horizontally over the street.

Chicago to Turn High-Rise Offices into Housing

Four commercial buildings in the Chicago Loop have been approved for redevelopment into housing in a bid to revitalize the city’s downtown post-pandemic.

April 10, 2024 - Chicago Construction News

Woman with long hair wearing Covid mask sitting on underground train station bench looking at her watch as subway train approaches in background at Hollywood/Western station in Los Angeles, California.

How California Transit Agencies are Addressing Rider Harassment

Safety and harassment are commonly cited reasons passengers, particularly women and girls, avoid public transit.

April 17 - The American Prospect

Nighttime view of wildfire in Los Angeles hills.

Significant Investments Needed to Protect LA County Residents From Climate Hazards

A new study estimates that LA County must invest billions of dollars before 2040 to protect residents from extreme heat, increasing precipitation, worsening wildfires, rising sea levels, and climate-induced public health threats.

April 17 - Los Angeles Times

Bird's eye view of oil field in New Mexico desert.

Federal Rule Raises Cost for Oil and Gas Extraction on Public Lands

An update to federal regulations raises minimum bonding to limit orphaned wells and ensure cleanup costs are covered — but it still may not be enough to mitigate the damages caused by oil and gas drilling.

April 17 - High Country News

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.