United States: Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Seeks Feedback on Appliance Efficiency Standards
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Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Initiatives: What Real Estate Professionals Need to Know, Part 6
- Chapter 8 of the Laws of 2021, a law creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy, includes new energy and water efficiency standards for 15 product categories.
- The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) is currently seeking public comment on proposed regulations incorporating these new statutory standards. The deadline for comments is September 29, 2021 at 5 p.m.
Chapter 8 of the Laws of 2021, a law creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy (the Climate Act), signed by Governor Charlie Baker on March 26, 2021, includes new efficiency standards energy and water for 15 product categories. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has published a draft revision of 225 CMR 9.00 (the Regulations) incorporating these statutory standards. As of January 1, 2022, manufacturers will no longer be able to ship any product that does not meet the new standards to Massachusetts.
The proposed revised Regulations include regulatory standards for energy efficiency and water use for commercial hot food storage cabinets, computers and computer monitors, general purpose lamps regulated by the Condition, high color rendering index fluorescent lights, plumbing fittings, plumbing fixtures, portable electric spas. , water coolers, residential aeration fans, commercial ovens, commercial dishwashers, commercial fryers, commercial steamers, sprinkler housings and electric vehicle power equipment. Each of these terms is defined; for example, “electric vehicle power equipment” is defined as the assembly of electrical components or a group of component assemblies designed to charge batteries in electric vehicles by allowing the transfer of electrical energy to a battery or another storage device in an electric vehicle. The Climate Act provides that these new standards will come into effect on January 1, 2022 and that no covered product may be “sold or offered for sale, rental or rental” in Massachusetts unless the standards are respected.
Although Massachusetts has had energy efficiency standards for appliances since 1986, they have not been updated since 2005. The latest revision includes new requirements for water conservation that were not included. previously in the regulations. A wide variety of plumbing fixtures will now be regulated for the first time. It remains to be seen whether supply chain issues linked to the pandemic will impact the new requirements, including for commercial real estate development, especially given the Commonwealth’s affordable multi-family housing goals. Design professionals will need to upgrade quickly in order to incorporate changes into contract specifications in a timely manner. Contractors will also need to familiarize themselves to ensure an appropriate supply of compliant building materials. Given the speed with which changes are imposed, this will likely lead to ongoing discussions between homeowners, contractors and lenders as to who should bear the cost of these changes, including price increases and delays. planning.
Interestingly, despite efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels, no changes are proposed for residential furnaces or boilers, including those that use fossil fuels like natural gas, propane, and fuel oil. However, the draft regulation retains the following exemption process:
The Commissioner may adopt rules to exempt compliance with these furnace or boiler standards in any building, site or location where complying with such standards would conflict with any local zoning ordinance, building or plumbing code or other rule concerning installation and ventilation of boilers or furnaces. [225 C.M.R. 9.03(4)(a)]
Given the mandate of the Climate Act and the speed at which it needs to be implemented, it seems unlikely that there will be time to consider substantive changes to the draft regulations.
Deadline for public hearings and comments
DOER is currently seeking public comments on the settlement until September 29, 2021 at 5 p.m., and will also hold a public hearing via Zoom on September 29 from noon to 2 p.m. According to the DOER website, the purpose of updating the regulations is not only to incorporate the new statutory standards, but also to seek feedback from stakeholders on how the DOER should apply the new standards.
Holland & Knight’s Massachusetts-based real estate and environmental attorneys will continue to monitor regulatory revisions, as well as other initiatives in response to climate law. For questions about a specific project or for assistance in drafting or submitting comments on rule revisions, please contact the authors.
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