Utah Policy Proposal Would Cut Pollution by Empowering Homeowners to Adopt Clean Air Technologies

“Electric Ready” Energy Code Update Can Increase Investment in New Homes Across State 

SALT LAKE CITY, November 15, 2021 – As Utah policymakers grapple with air quality and climate change, a new solution has just been submitted to the Utah Uniform Building Code Commission (UBCC) requiring new homes to be built “electric ready.” This is the first time an electric ready code has been considered by the State of Utah. If adopted, the change would improve access to technologies such as electric vehicles (EVs) and efficient electric heat pumps that reduce air pollution while increasing energy affordability for households.

The UBCC only reviews the residential building code once every six years—so the timing of this issue is critical. Currently the UBCC is reviewing the latest 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (2021 IECC). If we don’t take action now, we won’t have a similar opportunity until 2027. With Utah’s rapid growth, we can’t wait another six years to go electric ready.  

“Utah residents consistently rank poor air quality among their highest concerns and identify clean air as an important policy priority in the state,” stated Kevin Emerson, the Director of Building Efficiency and Decarbonization at Utah Clean Energy. “Especially when we recognize that Utah is the fastest growing state in the country, new construction codes are a sensible avenue to help address clean air at the same time as the state considers improvements for energy conservation in new construction.”

The proposed electric ready standard would require electrical capacity, wiring, and outlets in new homes for HVAC equipment, water heaters, cooking and clothes drying appliances and EV chargers. The electric ready proposal estimates a cost of $925 for the average single-family home and $1,350 for a low-rise multifamily residence to provide full electric readiness. This same cost analysis estimated that retrofitting properties to be electric ready at a later date would be 267% to 416% more expensive than making the investment during the time of construction.

“An investment in electric readiness is not just a major win for indoor and outdoor air quality by helping eliminate onsite fossil fuel combustion, but also creates more equitable access to clean energy technologies,” according to Tara Rollins, Executive Director of the Utah Housing Coalition. “This issue will become increasingly pressing for Utahns as technologies, such as electric vehicles and air-source heat pumps, improve in efficiency and continue to become more affordable.”

As much of the state struggle to meet federal air quality standards, a move towards more electric homes and transportation can help address a wide range of local pollution sources such as VOCs, NOx and PM2.5. Indoor air quality can also be improved as electric cooktops and stoves displace gas options that are increasingly recognized as a public health burden, according to RMI

“Ensuring home builders improve access to electrified technologies is the new ‘low-hanging fruit’ for building decarbonization and cleaner air,” stated Kevin Emerson, Director of Building Efficiency and Decarbonization at Utah Clean Energy. “This is a great way for Utah to demonstrate leadership and scale market-ready innovations in the building sector.”

The electric ready proposal was co-submitted to the Utah UBCC by Utah Clean Energy and the Salt Lake City Building Services Department. Numerous cities, counties, and towns in the state along with private businesses and developers have weighed in to support the proposal and others are encouraged to voice their opinions on the proposal.

“An electric ready standard for new homes in Utah increases access to clean technologies,” commented Bryson Garbett, President and CEO of Garbett Homes. “We view this as an opportunity to empower homeowners to adopt cost-saving appliances, improve access to renewable energy on the grid, and help more households protect personal and public health.”  

Full details of the Electric Ready code application and letters of support are here: https://utahcleanenergy.org/electric-ready-homes/

Kevin Emerson, MSc | Director of Building Efficiency and Decarbonization

(801) 608-0850 (cell) | kevin@utahcleanenergy.org