Council to Consider Reach Codes July 6th
Posted on 06/26/2020
At its regular meeting on July 6th at 7:30 p.m., the Piedmont City Council will consider the first reading of an ordinance implementing reach codes, which are amendments to state’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards and state Electrical Code which are designed to promote efficient building methods in homes in Piedmont. The Council will also consider an ordinance requiring home energy audits under certain circumstances. Click to read the Agenda Report for this item, which includes the proposed ordinances, as well as links to background documents and details on the public outreach.

These measures are being proposed because Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2.0 calls for the community to reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions from the building, transportation, waste, and wastewater sectors, combined, from about 38,000 metric tons of CO2e in 2017 to just 9,800 metric tons in 2050. Currently, a large percentage of Piedmont’s emissions come from natural gas appliances in buildings, especially gas furnaces and water heaters. To meet CAP goals, the Piedmont community must decrease natural gas use in buildings by improving insulation, and by switching out natural gas appliances for electric appliances powered by renewable energy.
Graph of 2017 Emissions vs. 2050 Goal

The specific proposed requirements are as follows:

  • Newly constructed low-rise residential buildings, including new detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs), must use all electric building appliances.
  • Projects proposing an entire new upper level on a low-rise residential building, or that increase a low-rise residential building’s total roof area by 30% or more, are required to install solar panels on their roof.
  • A housing renovation on a low-rise residential building, that costs $25,000 or more, will require the applicant to include one item from a list of energy efficient insulation or electrification fixes (renovations of $100,000 or more must include two). Multiple items are cost-effective.

The City Council will also consider other amendments to the Building Code and policy changes that, while not Reach Codes, will also help reduce natural gas use. They are:

  • An application for an electrical panel upgrade must include space in the panel to accommodate future electrification of all building appliances.
  • Kitchen and laundry area renovations must include electrical outlets to allow for future electrification.
  • Requiring completion of a Home Energy Score or Audit (homeowner’s choice) when listing for sale of a property or submitting an application for a design review permit.

The proposed code amendments were drafted following extensive public outreach – including two public surveys and five public outreach forums – significant research, and collaboration with East Bay Community Energy and several cost-effectiveness analysts.

Members of the public are encouraged to participate by submitting comments and attending the Council meeting. Comments regarding the proposed code amendments may be sent to the City Council via email to: citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov. To send comments via U.S. Mail, please use the following address: Piedmont City Council c/o City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611. 

If you have questions about the proposed ordinances and policy, please contact Planning & Building Director Kevin Jackson by email at kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov. Any correspondence sent to the City will be considered a public record.