Targeting a sector that accounts for nearly one-third of state-wide greenhouse gas emissions, the Baker administration is forming a new advisory commission to help the state meet its carbon reduction targets by creating cleaner buildings and addressing heating fuels that contribute substantially to emissions.
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides will chair the new Commission on Clean Heat that will include up to 22 other members. Gov. Charlie Baker created the commission through an executive order, and its representatives will be drawn from many sectors, including affordable housing, energy efficient building design, health care, heating system design and technology, real estate, and heating fuel distribution.
“Transitioning our buildings sector to a clean, resilient, and affordable future will require an unprecedented level of ambition, planning, and ultimately energy efficiency and clean energy deployment,” Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Patrick Woodcock said in a statement late Monday as the administration continued to roll out its “climate week” announcements. ” … We will need to make significant investments to lower emissions from our buildings sector through energy efficiency and clean energy and this new Commission starts the process with collaboration, deliberation, and analysis that will set that foundation.”
While the commission will be looked to for advice, some of its marching orders have been set, including the development of policy recommendations to accelerate energy efficiency programs and clean heating systems in new and existing buildings and transitioning existing distribution systems to clean energy. It plans to look at “financing mechanisms, incentives, and other regulatory options including a framework for a cap on greenhouse gas emissions from heating fuels,” according to the Baker administration.
The commission was charged Monday with presenting policy recommendations by Nov. 30, 2022 “that will sustainably reduce the use of heating fuels and minimize emissions from the building sector while ensuring costs and opportunities arising from such reductions are distributed equitably.” An Interagency Building Decarbonization Task Force will be established to support the commission’s work.
The Baker administration is separately working to launch a multi-state compact to reduce the transportation sector’s substantial carbon emissions. That effort has not drawn the full support of many of its potential member states and also could be derailed in Massachusetts via a possible 2022 ballot question.