News Brief

Massachusetts Carbon Law Pushes Net-Zero Stretch Code

Natural gas bans are not on the table, but other aspects of building electrification are addressed, along with environmental justice reforms.

A comprehensive new climate law in Massachusetts requires net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. “An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy” delineates six sectors, including the residential building sector, and the commercial and industrial building sector, and sets emissions mandates and incentives for each. The law also redefines what constitutes an environmental justice population and opens up ways to address both historical and future toxic burdens in these communities.

A few features of the new law:

  • Requires the administration to develop a new stretch code for buildings within one year that will include net-zero requirements and can optionally be adopted by municipalities;
  • Defines “environmental justice population” based on income, percentage of marginalized groups, and English-language proficiency, and requires an environmental impact report for potentially damaging projects that takes past pollution into account;
  • Requires utilities to increase their renewable-energy portfolios year after year;
  • Sets higher efficiency standards for appliances;
  • Incentivizes use of solar energy in a variety of ways and requires solar incentive programs to target low-income and other marginalized communities.

What’s not included in the law? The ability for municipalities to ban natural gas hookups for new construction—something the Commonwealth has said it don’t have the authority to do.

“This landmark legislation will set Massachusetts on the path to net-zero emissions by 2050 and, in the process, help make Massachusetts a leader of the clean energy future,” said Massachusetts House Speaker Ronald Mariano. “This bill reduces barriers to participation in green energy programs and will empower environmental justice populations in the project review process.”

For more information:

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Published May 3, 2021

Melton, P. (2021, April 22). Massachusetts Carbon Law Pushes Net-Zero Stretch Code. Retrieved from

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