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Updated: January 22, 2024 10 Things

10 Things I know about ... Sustainable development, part 2

The first part of Samantha McDonald's column on sustainable development appeared in the Jan. 8 edition of WBJ.

6) Premium gas ranges will fall out of fashion. Gas appliances are on their way out, as electricity becomes king for appliances and heating and cooling systems. The Mass. Department of Public Utilities issued an order in December restricting new gas service and putting gas utilities on notice of the goal of a beyond-gas future. New buildings will sport double-insulated windows, heat pumps, and super-tight air seals, changes meant to reduce the strain on the electric grid.

Samantha McDonald is real estate lawyer with Worcester law firm Bowditch & Dewey, concentrating on business and real estate property law.

7) Building McMansions just got more complicated. Under the code, new homes more than 4,000 square feet must be all electric or, if they use gas or oil, they must be pre-wired for future all-electric operation and be so-called net-zero properties using solar or wind energy for electricity.

8) Parking lots will look different. 20% of all parking spaces in new multifamily buildings must be wired for electric vehicle chargers. Builders aren’t required to install them under the code, but the demand for EVs from tenants will grow.

9) There is no good time for adding building regulations. It may not seem like an ideal time to add more burdens on builders, especially with interest rates at record levels. But this summer, Hawaii caught on fire and Arizona got so hot people who fell on the street sustained third-degree burns. Change is always hard, and the cost of not doing anything to reduce climate change seems even worse. As the phrase goes, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago; the next best time is now.

10) Worcester has ambitious goals and is making progress. The City, which declared a climate emergency in 2019 and developed an award-winning Green Worcester Plan, intends to have 100% renewable electricity citywide by 2035 and 100% renewable energy for all heating and transportation 10 years later. It has already improved its energy performance by 19% from its 2009 baseline. Worcester is punching above its weight!

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