New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act (GWRA) requires an 80% statewide reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The building sector accounts for approximately 25% of emissions, primarily from natural gas and fuel oil used for heating. Achieving the 80% emissions reduction goal is impossible without substantially reducing emissions from buildings.
New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan identifies zero carbon construction as a primary goal, and further states that the building sector should be 90% decarbonized/electrified by 2050. Despite those lofty goals – New Jersey has 3.6 million residential units and nearly 600,000 commercial properties – the Energy Master Plan only describes a few preliminary steps that would do little to move New Jersey towards a decarbonized building sector (e.g., expanding existing incentives, conducting studies, etc.).
Like New Jersey, New York’s climate plan requires a massive reduction of carbon emissions by 2050. This month, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced her support for a statewide natural gas ban for new buildings. The ban is set forth in New York’s climate policy blueprint which calls for legislation requiring new buildings to use zero-emission heat sources. The policy timeline calls for a ban on new natural gas connections to single-family homes and low-rise apartments in 2024 and all new buildings by 2027. Similar legislation already enacted in New York City requires electric heat for new smaller buildings in 2023 and larger buildings by 2027.
New York City’s decarbonization deadlines are fast approaching, as are New York State’s proposed deadlines, and will soon shine a spotlight on New Jersey’s comparative inaction. New Jersey’s recent 80×20 report mandated by the GWRA states that new construction should be carbon free by 2025, and that a roadmap should be developed to address decarbonizing existing buildings in the short term. How New Jersey eventually substantively moves towards building sector decarbonization is sure to become a heavily debated and contentious issue worth following.