Reach Codes and Home Energy Assessment Policy:  Information for Architects, Real Estate Agents, Planners, & Homeowners

Last updated: August 17, 2021

The California Building Standards Code (California Code of Regulations, Title 24) sets statewide building code standards. New editions of the Code are published every three years, with the most recent version (2019 edition) in effect since January 1, 2020. During its February 1, 2021 regular meeting, Piedmont’s City Council adopted local amendments to the Code, also called reach codes, that require electrification and energy efficiency measures for new construction and existing residential building renovations. The reach codes are designed to meet the City’s Climate Action goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and natural gas usage in residential buildings. The reach codes (Ordinance 750 N.S.) went into effect on June 1, 2021.

In tandem with the reach codes, the City Council adopted a Home Energy Assessment Policy. The Home Energy Assessment Policy requires each person who sells a home in Piedmont to provide a Home Energy Score or a Home Energy Audit prepared in the past 5 years to prospective buyers and the City. The policy is intended to provide important important information regarding the energy use, and the costs associated with that energy use, of the building(s) offered for sale. The Home Energy Assessment Policy (Ordinance 751 N.S.) went into effect on March 3, 2021. 


To read Ordinance 750 N.S. (reach codes), please click here.
To read Ordinance 751 N.S. (home energy assessment policy), please click here.

To view a checklist of the requirements of the Ordinances, please click here. 
To download a Building Permit Application, please click here. 

Ordinance 750 N.S. (Reach Codes) 

Ordinance 750 N.S. includes the following requirements:

  • Newly constructed low-rise residential buildings and new detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) must use all electric building appliances. No gas lines can be hooked up to these buildings.
  • Projects that include an entirely new level or expand the total roof area by 30% or more, must install solar panels on the roof.
  • A renovation project that costs $25,000 or more must include an energy efficient insulation or heating system electrification improvement to include in the renovation.
  • A renovation project that costs $100,000 or more must include two energy efficient insulation or heating system electrification improvements to include in the renovation.
    • The energy efficient insulation or heating system requirement can be modified with a Home Energy Score of at least a 7 completed in the last five years. This modification is included so homes that have been pursuing energy efficiency measures can be recognized for their efforts.
  • An application for an electrical panel upgrade must include capacity in the panel to accommodate future electrification of all appliances in the residence.
  • An application for a kitchen or laundry area renovation must include electrical outlets for future appliance installations.

Financial rebates, resources and incentives


Ordinance 751 N.S. (Home Energy Assessment Policy)

Each person who sells or transfers an interest in real property located in Piedmont must provide a Home Energy Score or a Home Energy Audit prepared in the past five years to potential buyers in addition to all other disclosure documents. The Home Energy Score or Home Energy Audit are not required if the home was constructed in the past 10 years.

What is the difference between a Home Energy Score and an Audit?

  • Home Energy Scores are guided by a series of requirements from the Department of Energy and can help homeowners identify areas to improve energy efficiency in their homes and save money. An assessor will do a walk through and provide suggestions and a score from 1-10, with 10 being the best score. A Home Energy Score will take less than 3 hours to complete and will generally cost less than $600. You can see a sample Home Energy Score from the DOE here
  • A Home Energy Audit is more expensive and time consuming, but will also provide more detailed suggestions for energy improvements. While a Home Energy Score may just include a walkthrough, an Audit will include measurements in each room of the home. You can see a sample Home Energy Audit here.  

Where to find an Energy Score or Energy Audit

What architects, real estate agents, and homeowners need to know:

  • If your home is listed for sale on or after March 3, 2021, you must include a Home Energy Score or Home Energy Audit with other relevant information provided to potential buyers.
  • Home Energy Scores cost a few hundred dollars, averaging $200-500:
  • Home Energy Audits can cost several hundred dollars, averaging $500-1,000:
    • Home Energy Audits are more expensive than Home Energy Scores, but they also provide a more thorough analysis of your home. Most HVAC companies can provide this service.
  • BayREN hosts an online search tool to find locally trained contractors and provides contact information to speak with a Home Energy Advisor, free of charge.  

Background Information

Documents

At its meeting on July 20, 2020, the City Council approved the first reading of the reach codes ordinances, but directed staff to do additional public outreach and answer resident questions before it considered the regulations for final approval.

At its meeting on February 1, 2021, the Piedmont City Council approved the second reading and final passage of an ordinance implementing reach codes, which are designed to promote efficient building methods in homes in Piedmont. The February 1 Agenda Report provided additional information, including:

  • Which projects would trigger solar panel requirements, and what exemptions exist for solar panels.
  • How much insulation or solar panel installation would cost upfront, and how much these items would save homeowners over time.
  • An exemption for certain energy efficiency improvements with a Home Energy Score of 7 or greater.
  • Staff’s criteria for granting exceptions to these requirements.
  • Further clarifying the role and power of the building official in permit decisions
  • How lingering concerns are to be addressed.

What are Reach Codes?

The amendments – collectively referred to as “Reach Codes” – alter the requirements for home construction and renovation in Piedmont to facilitate building insulation, electrification, and solar panel installation, helping the Piedmont community reduce natural gas use in buildings and move towards community Climate Action Plan goals. The proposed amendments would also make homes more comfortable, decrease air pollutants, and provide homeowners with opportunities to save money.

Noteworthy public engagement since July include the development and posting of a list of frequently asked questions on the City’s website and a virtual Town Hall held in early September. Through these efforts, City staff worked to gather more input from residents and further clarify the proposed regulations ahead of the February 1 Council meeting.

In November 2020, research firm FM3 conducted an additional city-wide voter survey to supplement the public opinion survey that was completed in June 2020. The survey asked hundreds of Piedmont residents their opinions on the proposed reach codes and how the codes would affect them.

How do reach codes relate to the Climate Action Plan?

Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan 2.0 sets an ambitious goal of reducing in-territory greenhouse gas emissions 80% between 2005 and 2050. The Piedmont community will not meet its 2050 target unless natural gas appliances are phased out of use (see below). Beyond releasing carbon emissions, natural gas appliances emit a variety of other dangerous pollutants when used. Decreasing natural gas use will decrease homeowners’ exposure to these dangerous pollutants.

The vast majority of Piedmont residences and businesses receive electricity generated by 100% renewable sources by virtue of being customers of East Bay Community Energy’s Renewable 100 electricity service. Building electrification and solar panel installation, will increase the amount of building energy supplied from renewable electricity and decrease the amount supplied from natural gas.

Current emissions vs. Emissions goals

Contacts and further information

If you have questions or concerns about Ordinance 750 N.S. or 751 N.S., please contact Building Official Paki Muthig (pmuthig@piedmont.ca.gov) or Sustainability Program Manager Alyssa Dykman (adykman@piedmont.ca.gov).