The Montgomery County Council is considering legislation that would require the county to adopt all-electric building standards for most new construction and major renovations by January 2024.

The bill is jointly sponsored by County Executive Marc Elrich and Hans Riemer, Chair of the council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee.

A staff briefing memo on the bill acknowledges “isolated examples” where 100% electric construction is not yet feasible. The bill provides exemptions, such as New York’s provisions for laboratories, laundromats, hospitals, crematoriums, manufacturing facilities and commercial kitchens. Allowances are also included for emergency or standby power to be generated with fossil fuel systems. Public school buildings that apply for building permits before January of 2026 would also be exempt.

Montgomery County’s Climate Action Plan targets reaching economy-wide net zero emissions by 2035 – 10 years earlier than Maryland’s goal. The county’s interim milestones include electrifying 85% of passenger vehicles and converting 75% of existing commercial buildings from fossil fuels to electric heat and hot water by 2027.

The Maryland General Assembly adopted an emissions standard for existing buildings during the 2022 session as part of a broad climate mitigation bill but removed an all-electric building code requirement from that legislation. The assembly instead asked the Maryland Codes Administration to report on questions related to building technologies and methods of electrifying buildings. It also sent questions about electricity grid capacities and impacts on utility consumers to the Maryland Public Service Commission for further study.

A public hearing on the Montgomery County all-electric building code bill is expected July 26th with work by the council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee beginning in September.

The NAIOP DC/MD Chapter’s Montgomery County Leadership Committee is reviewing the bill and its implications.