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White House announces efforts to curb emissions in buildings

·2 min read
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks from the East Room of the White House in Washington

By Jarrett Renshaw and Nichola Groom

(Reuters) -The Biden administration on Monday announced its latest push to cut carbon emissions by setting new efficiency standards for federal buildings and speeding up adoption of technologies to heat buildings with electricity rather than fossil fuels.

The moves are the latest in a growing push to slash natural gas use in residential and commercial buildings, which account for about 12% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

President Joe Biden wants to decarbonize the U.S. economy by 2050 and achieve a 100% clean electricity grid by 2035. Proponents of switching buildings to run on electricity want them powered by that emissions-free grid.

The efforts announced on Monday do not need congressional approval.

More than two dozen cities, mainly in California, have voted to avoid or reduce reliance on gas in buildings. In response, lawmakers in some Republican-leaning states have pushed legislation that would block cities from implementing bans on gas in buildings.

The U.S. government will for the first time develop "building performance standards" for federal buildings in an effort to conserve energy and reduce emissions, the White House said in a statement.

The Department of Energy will pour $10 million into an effort to fund research on and increase market adoption of heat pump water heaters, which run on electricity.

The administration said it is also setting new "Energy Star" standards for heat pumps and directing millions of new dollars to help create incentives for emissions-saving technology.

The development of building performance standards will be overseen by an interagency process that includes the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the General Services Administration, the White House said.

The White House said it "will establish metrics, targets, and tracking methods to reach federal carbon emissions goals" but did not release any specific timelines or details on developing building performance standards.

The standards will eventually identify performance milestones as well as the resources that agencies need to meet them, the White House said.

The White House also announced a slew of programs aimed at boosting carbon-cutting technology and investing in a workforce capable of working on building efficiency.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Marguerita Choy)

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