Flemming: Vermont developers prioritize housing with fossil fuel heating over climate concerns

By David Flemming

Seven Days found an intriguing case study in public policy priorities: “As the state races to build its way out of the housing crisis, much new construction is still incorporating fossil fuel heating systems. That’s a big problem, clean energy advocates say, because it adds to a carbon footprint that Vermont must drastically reduce.”

The article adds:

The 36-unit Stuart Avenue Apartments, owned by Champlain Housing Trust, will be heated by a fossil fuel — natural gas. The relatively low price of gas and easy access compared to other fossil fuels, such as propane and heating oil, made the heating decision an easy one, said Kathy Beyer. … For an organization under intense pressure to build housing as quickly as possible amid soaring costs, the cheapest heating option was the developers’ only real choice, Beyer said. “Our mission is to build more housing, I’ll be very honest about that. If our operating costs are going to go up, it means we’re going to build less housing.”

According to their website, the Champlain Housing Trust is “a Community Land Trust that supports the people of Northwest Vermont and strengthens their communities through the development and stewardship of permanently affordable homes and related community assets.”

While it does mention the standard Vermont nonprofit adage of “protecting the environment” on its website, it is clear that housing is prioritized when push comes to shove.

At last check, Vermont was short 5,800 homes. The choice is clear: should Vermont be concerned about its carbon footprint or building as many homes as possible? For now at least, developers have the option to choose fossil fuels over “green” heating systems that don’t work in cold weather. That could change if Vermont adopts something close to the Clean Heat Standard in 2023. More expensive green building codes means fewer homes that can afford to be built.

Even more remarkable is all of the subsidies that go into green heating systems which still fall flat in comparison to heating systems like natural gas.

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Flickr/401kcalculator.org
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3 thoughts on “Flemming: Vermont developers prioritize housing with fossil fuel heating over climate concerns

  1. well now thats alot of crazy going on in Mountpeculiar for sure! Trees; lets save a few by putting all names and parties on 1 ballot for the primary……instead of wasting 75% of paper handed out, and make it alot easier for us who do NOT want to declare being one of any of those parties, and much easier to cross reference and vote for who one wants to vote for……..
    how bout it? oh Government of NOT mine!!

  2. Insanity on display, again. Don’t worry, it will get worse – the ‘Feel-Good-Policy-Zombies” in Montpelier. I hear a number or new laws are coming. First, the IPP….The Indigenous Peoples Payment…for every new house built, a 2% tax fee will be levied to give to Indigenous Vermont Peoples (if they can find any), because you stole their land. Next? The WPP….Wood Products Payment. This is because to build a house takes a huge amount of WOOD. When you cut a tree down, to get the wood…that tree can no longer absorb any CO2…so YOUR new house CAUSES Climate Change! You will pay a 3% penalty tax – annually!. Next? ALL plastic items in a new house will be banned….from windows, pipes, appliances, toilets, doors etc…..since it takes Petro-Chemicals to make them, and they cause global warming. Lastly, I hear they will ban wood stoves because they pollute the air (unlike natural gas – which will be banned soon)….and besides, wood stoves consume cut down tree’s & the loss of tree’s causes global warming. To make sure ALL Vermonters comply with the WSB (Wood Stove Ban) a new unionzied Vermont department will be created with 1,000 uniformed, deptutized “Climate Corporals” to spy on citizens. This will be backed up by a unionized staff in Montpelier of 600 new middle & upper level employees to handle all the meetings & Memos. Get ready! It’s insane out there 🙂

    • And don’t forget that ALL this new bureaucracy will require (ad infinitum) a host of employment benefits including health care and retirement.

      How come we all have to pay for things which MAY happen long after we are all dead?

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