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Boston seeking to limit fossil fuel use in new buildings

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BOSTON (AP) — Boston is pushing forward with plans to discourage the use of fossil fuel in new buildings.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu on Thursday filed an ordinance with the city council that would require new buildings that rely on fossil fuels to install solar panels and to add wiring in anticipation of future conversion to electrification with the goal of most new buildings going all-electric.

Several other communities in the state have embraced similar efforts.

Wu also announced the city will use $10 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to improve energy performance at the city’s affordable housing developments.

In Boston, 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from the building sector, according to Wu, who said the emissions contribute both to global climate change and to local air pollution that disproportionately harms low-income residents and communities of color in the city.

The announcement comes after Massachusetts lawmakers adopted a new law last year meant to encourage communities to embrace fossil fuel-free codes for new construction.

While Wu’s proposal stops short of that, she has expressed interest in taking even more aggressive steps. Wu has said she wants Boston to participate in a new pilot program included in the 2022 law. Under that program, 10 cities and towns will be allowed to require fossil fuel-free new construction, as long as each community first meets the 10% affordable housing target set by state law and also exempts life sciences labs and health care facilities from the all-electric requirements.

Participating cities and towns are expected to be announced later in the year.

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