Vermont’s largest city plans to phase out fossil fuels in all buildings by 2030

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A legislative effort to spur all-electric new construction in Burlington, Vermont has morphed into a broader push to phase out fossil fuel use in all buildings as the state pursues a climate goal ambitious for 2030.

Burlington lawmakers are exploring regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in large commercial buildings, city-owned properties and major renovation projects. The program builds on Burlington’s recently obtained authority to regulate thermal energy systems. It also expands on the city’s original, narrower goal of discouraging the burning of fossil fuels in new commercial buildings.

Natural gas in particular is in the crosshairs; Burlington sits at the center of the state’s only gas utility territory, operated by Vermont Gas Systems Inc., or VGS. It is also by far the most populous city in the state, and its policies could extend to other cities in VGS territory.

The growing political push reflects the city’s aggressive climate goals: Burlington is targeting net-zero emissions from the heating and ground transportation sectors by 2030, with ambitions to eventually eliminate fossil fuel consumption in buildings and the vehicles. It also shows how cities are developing various approaches to decarbonizing buildings three years after the start of a movement to ban the use of gas in buildings.

[Tom DiChristopher]

After: How Burlington, Vermont plans to decarbonize all buildings by 2030

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