Sabadosa, others urge Legislature to allow Northampton to adopt all-electric building code

  • Habitat For Humanity Housing on Burts Pit Road.

Staff Writer
Published: 7/17/2023 4:51:32 PM
Modified: 7/17/2023 4:51:01 PM

Flooding that has affected crops at area farms last week illustrates how climate change is already causing suffering, and will only get worse, state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, told the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Thursday.

“It’s devastating what has happened to my district,” Sabadosa said.

Sabadosa cited the recent damaging weather as a reason for pursuing a home-rule petition on behalf of the city of Northampton that will allow it to join other cities and towns requiring all-electric power in substantially remodeled or rehabilitated and new buildings. Current law only allows 10 communities to be part of this fossil-free demonstration project.

With a natural gas moratorium already in place, Sabadosa added that her legislation won’t compromise more affordable housing projects in the city, which are already being built to green standards. “That’s who we are as a community,” Sabadosa saiod

Sabadosa was among a number of local leaders who spoke at a session focused on a various bills aimed at promoting decarbonization across the state.

Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, too, has filed a similar bill for expanding access to the fossil fuel free demonstration project, and has a second bill incorporating embodied carbon into state climate policy.

Embodied carbon represents the millions of tons of carbon emissions released during the lifecycle of building materials, including extraction, manufacturing, transport, construction and disposal, as defined by the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit of experts across disciplines working to accelerate the clean energy transition and improve lives. Concrete, steel, and insulation are all examples of materials that contribute to embodied carbon emissions.

Comerford said the embodied carbon bill focuses on the forgotten factor in building construction, with embodied carbon making up about 23% of global annual greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is part of the solution,” Comerford said. Her bill requires embodied carbon to be incorporated into future versions of the stretch energy code.

Clean energy push

Amherst resident Johanna Neumann, acting director of Environment Massachusetts, was also present at the hearings last Wednesday and Thursday, speaking in support of an act transitioning Massachusetts to clean electricity, heating and transportation, also known as the 100% Clean Act.

This bill, Neumann said, would bring clarity to the state’s intention to transition full to clean energy for the electric sector by 2035 and transportation and heating of buildings by 2045.

“We think it’s time for Massachusetts to actually clarify its intention to run its electric system with clean energy,” Neumann said, adding that her organization’s experience is that when states set goals and have actionable goals, it initiates a “virtuous cycle” that grows clean and green energy

“Eleven other states have already committed to 100% clean electricity, including Maine and New York by 2040, Rhode Island by 2033,” said Neumann. “It’s time for Massachusetts to join the 100% club.”

Northampton City Councilors Alex Jarrett and Marissa Elkins also testified for allowing an all-electric building code.

Jarrett said that buildings account for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions.

“It doesn’t make sense to build new buildings that will need to be retrofitted before the useful life of their heating, cooking and cooling infrastructure is through,” Jarrett said.

Elkins said she saw bountiful crops destroyed by floods and other farmers suffering terribly. “It’s not a looming climate crisis, it’s a present climate crisis,” Elkins said.

Northampton resident Adele Franks, speaking on behalf of the Climate Action Now chapter for Western Massachusetts, also spoke in favor of the bill that would allow more cities to require new construction to be all electric, observing there are 7 to 10 million premature deaths in the world caused by air pollution.

“Please allow these communities to lead the commonwealth and stop digging a deeper hole by building with fossil fuels and the related infrastructure that would last for many, many years,” Franks said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

23 Service Center Road
Northampton, MA 01060


Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy