Tacoma Considering Banning Fossil Fuels and Natural Gas In Residential Construction

Earlier this week, the Tacoma City Council approved a resolution to prohibit new City Buildings from using fossil fuels and natural gases. New residential and commercial buildings could see a similar rule in the future, too. This resolution, beholden to City buildings and property, goes into effect on January 1, 2022. Master Builders Association of Pierce County submitted comment to the Mayor and Council ahead of the Council Meeting, expressing our interest to collaborate with the City’s staff or task force that would be in charge of analyzing the effects of this rule on new commercial and residential development. We shared with the City determined costs of the most recent Building Code updates, effective earlier this year, and their implications on housing attainability, affordability, and accessibility. 

Per BIAW, one builder of already energy-efficient homes calculated just complying with the new energy code effective earlier this could add up to $10,364 to the cost of a new home depending on the size of the home. Complying with the other new codes (residential building, plumbing, fire, and mechanical codes, as well as the Washington state amendments that affect them) adds even more for a combined average of $15,000 to $20,000. Here are some examples from the energy code:

  • Upgrading the HVAC system with compliant air handlers and heat pumps adds roughly $3,200 to $5,900.
  • Increased cost for compliant windows adds another $480 to $1,800 to that.
  • Increased cost for insulation adds $300 to $2,050 more.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has recently released their annual affordability index. According to their data, a $1,000 increase in the cost of a median-priced, newly built home in Tacoma prices out 1,557 families from being able to buy in our market. Furthermore, the NAHB study finds that the median price of a home in the Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue area is $542,762 which makes our market the most expensive area to live in the state.