Big Win: The Healthy Homes Act Means Clean, Green Justice in the District

It’s time to #ElectrifyEverything! In Washington, DC, buildings are the main driver of citywide emissions (72%)! This comes in part from using fossil fuels to cook, heat water, and keep our buildings warm in the winter. 

Luckily, the DC Council is working to change this. On May 7th , DC Council unanimously passed the  “Healthy Homes and Residential Electrification Amendment Act of 2023,” which was introduced by Councilmember Charles Allen, and 7 others. The Healthy Homes Act is a historic piece of climate justice legislation that allows up to 30,000 low- and moderate-income households to remove harmful methane burning appliances from their homes.

The bill will help low-income residents improve their health, save on bills, and create a sustainable future, but the funding that was once set aside for home renovations was raided in Mayor Bowser’s fiscal year 2025 budget. 


What the Bill Does: Help Low- and Moderate-Income Households Go Electric

The bill establishes the Breathe Easy Health Homes Act fact sheet-1Program, requiring the DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) to provide residential electrification retrofits to at least 5,000 low-income homes by the end of 2027; a total of 10,000 by the end of 2032; a total of 20,000 by the end of 2037; and a total of 30,000 by the end of 2040. 

If funds are available, it will help DC households above the income limits retrofit as well. 

Read a factsheet about the bill here.

What’s a “Residential Electrification Retrofit”? 

A “residential electrification retrofit” is defined as replacement of all appliances or other systems, such as an oven, water heater, or heating system, that combust fossil fuels on site with appliances or other systems that perform the same function and that are powered exclusively by electricity.

DOEE is required to partner with a nonprofit to provide training and education related to the provision of residential electrification retrofits to businesses and individuals, and must reduce or eliminate the cost of training and education to maximize participation of equity impact enterprises and provide jobs to DC residents.

The agency is working to come up with a plan for implementation by September 30, 2024.

Building on Previous Successes

In 2018, the DC Council passed the Clean Energy DC Act, which requires DC to have 100% clean electricity by 2032. The law also requires DC to invest in energy efficiency, creates groundbreaking building standards, and funds local programs to help low-income residents and make the city a sustainable place to live.

In 2022, the Council passed two bills that enshrine D.C.’s carbon neutrality target into law and set limits on the use of natural gas in new buildings. These bills for the first time mandate that all new and substantially renovated buildings in the city be powered by 100% carbon-free energy (with the exception of low-rise residential structures). This sets in motion a phase out of methane gas use across much of the nation’s capital. 

But how will we get to those goals? The Healthy Homes Act sets out a real plan to get DC on the pathway to carbon neutrality in its buildings. 

What Comes Next?

Now that the Healthy Homes Act has passed, we need to make sure the DC government is held accountable for swift and effective execution. Once the funding is secured, we will continue to monitor its roll-out, holding DC to its clean energy goals, and sharing resources for signing up for the Breathe Easy program once it’s up and running. This is the next major step for a just energy transition in DC! Stay tuned for more.