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.”

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