In 2021, the country saw unprecedented policy changes as lawmakers recognized the importance of meeting climate goals.
According to the NRDC, clean and healthy buildings surged forward as a policy priority in 2021. Buildings—our homes and places of work—are responsible for a quarter of the U.S.’s climate-busting greenhouse gas emissions. Replacing building systems that burn fossil fuels on-site with appliances powered by clean electricity is a key strategy to combat the climate crisis. As policymakers recognized how important our homes and places of work will be to meeting climate goals, communities across the country saw unprecedented policy action and market growth in the right direction: clean, healthy, affordable homes for all.
To prevent future harm and proactively benefit those who have suffered disproportionate historic burdens, frontline communities should be centered in the policy-making process. Decision makers also need to ensure energy and housing justice principles are foundational elements of policy. 2021 saw many examples of how this commitment to energy and housing justice can result in stronger policies for all.
For the transition to healthy, electric buildings to be truly equitable, clean energy itself—not just the appliances that use it—must remain affordable. Electric rates are too often used to pay for the damages caused by fossil fuels, like wildfires. This ironically hinders the transition away from polluting energy sources, locking in climate, pollution, and cost impacts. To accelerate the transition to clean energy in buildings, transportation, and industry, the cleaner energy source must also be the most affordable. This issue rose in prominence in 2021, and we expect much of our 2022 work will continue to address it.