Letter to the Editor: Stop constructing buildings that use fossil fuels

Saturday, September 25, 2021

To the Editor:

Since moving to Shoreline, Washington, I’ve witnessed climate change impacts from heat waves to “snowpocalypse.” Our inevitably hotter summers has me worried for greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and public safety in our community.
The people most at risk of heat-related health impacts are low income residents, particularly those who are bedridden or unable to access cooling centers, who don’t have air conditioning where they live. Keeping the most vulnerable people safe means air conditioning is a necessity when building new homes.

Luckily, electric heat pumps, which provide heating and air conditioning together, are much more efficient than gas-powered air conditioners. Using heat pumps can reduce energy use for heating and cooling homes by up to 50% or more, which means less strain on the grid and lower energy costs. Plus, an all-electric home has 93% lower carbon emissions than a home with natural gas appliances.
Buildings that use fossil fuels like natural gas for space and water heating are both the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions and the primary source of pollution-related deaths in Washington state. In 2017, outdoor air pollution from burning fossil fuels in buildings led to an estimated 559 early deaths and $6.266 billion in health costs. 

This impacts Black, Latinx, and Asian people, as well as low-income communities, who now have higher risks of death from particle pollution due to racist policies which pushed communities of color to live in places with greater exposure to air pollution.

We have the power to stop making this problem worse. We can stop constructing buildings which use fossil fuels. I’m thrilled to see my Shoreline City Council lead on this issue and I urge them to pass an ordinance this year to begin phasing out the use of fossil gas in new construction projects.

Ariana Rundquist Ylvisaker


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