Reach Codes for
Building Electrification, Solar, and EV Charging
November 19, 2022
Reach Codes Approved by Glendale City Council!
Pending approval by the California Energy Commission and the Building Standards Commission, Glendale is set to be the largest city in Southern California to adopt a reach code for building electrification! If approved, codes will go into effect January 1, 2023.
Glendale City Council has adopted ordinances to:
- Require all new construction, including accessory dwelling units (ADUs), to be completely electric, with limited exemptions. Buildings that receive a waiver must be pre-wired for future electric appliance installation.
- Requires new single and multi-family units and non-residential construction to include electric vehicle infrastructure.
- Requires new construction to install solar pv. New buildings must offset 100% of their projected electricity use or cover at least 50% of rooftop space.
Read about the outcome in the Glendale News Press:
Reach Code Workshop Recording
VISIT Glendale’s Reach Code Webpage
Learn more about the reach codes and their many benefits (including cost savings and reduction of local emissions), view updates, learn about upcoming events, and view recordings of webinars at the City’s webpage.
For questions, email Sustainability@glendaleca.gov.
TAKE the Survey
After you read the fact sheet, please fill out the city’s Reach Code Survey.
REACH CODES FACT SHEET
September 8, 2022
Prepared by the Glendale Building Electrification Working Group
(The Glendale Environmental Coalition is a proud member of the Glendale Building Electrification Working Group, which formed this year to promote an all-electric building policy for the city, to go into effect as soon as possible and with the fewest exceptions possible.)
Glendale is considering adopting “reach codes” to make new buildings all-electric, to include solar on new non-residential and multifamily buildings, and to include some EV chargers and EV-ready parking spaces for new buildings. The new requirements would go into effect on January 1, 2023.
The Glendale Building Electrification Working Group supports this proposal, while offering some suggestions to strengthen the policies. These reach codes will help reduce local air pollution and confront the climate crisis, improve public health, and save new building occupants money on their utility bills.
Health, Safety, and Environmental Benefits of Building Electrification
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that contributes to air pollution and climate change.
- Fossil gas, commonly known as “natural gas” or simply “gas,” is primarily methane, which generates CO2 when burned. Additionally, extracting and transporting gas emits large amounts of greenhouse gases.
- Methane, a greenhouse gas that is about 87 times more potent than CO2, is leaked in large quantities during the extraction and transport of natural gas. Methane even leaks in our homes. A recent study found that even when not in use, gas stoves leak methane.
All-electric buildings are more healthy, comfortable, and safe.
- Gas stoves and furnaces produce a range of pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitric oxide (NO), carbon monoxide (CO), formaldehyde, and volatile organic compounds.
- A 2013 study found that children living in homes with gas stoves had a 42 percent higher risk of experiencing asthma symptoms, and a 24 percent increase in the risk of being diagnosed with asthma over their lifetime. (1)
- Residents of under-resourced communities disproportionately live in overcrowded smaller residences where air pollution can reach higher concentrations.
All-electric buildings help reduce Glendale’s greenhouse gas emissions
- Transitioning to all-electric homes and buildings, which can run on 100% carbon-free energy, is the lowest-cost, lowest-risk pathway to decarbonizing buildings and reaching broader climate goals. Even when a home is powered with electricity that comes partly from fossil fuel sources, that is better than using gas fuel in buildings, which is 100% carbon-emitting energy.
- Glendale’s power supply will be cleaner in the future, especially now that the City Council has passed a commitment to reach 100% clean energy by 2035. A new building constructed today is likely to last for decades past the year GWP transitions fully to emission-free electricity. Including gas in those buildings would lock in carbon emissions that could otherwise be avoided.
The Economic Case for Building Electrification
All-electric buildings have lower costs to construct and maintain.
- A study by the statewide codes and standards team found that all-electric homes on average cost $5,000 less to build than homes with gas because of the avoided cost of installing gas infrastructure.
- Gas infrastructure is expensive to maintain and repair. Electric systems are easier and less costly to repair.
All-electric buildings are less expensive to operate.
- Modern all-electric appliances like heat pump heaters/air conditioners and water heaters are ultra-efficient (greater than 100%), saving homeowners and renters money on their monthly utility bills over the life of the appliances..
- Gas prices are expected to continue increasing dramatically in the coming years, which means that the cost savings of using electric appliances will increase substantially over time.
All-electric new construction avoids future costs.
- To meet our climate goals and give everyone the health and economic benefits of all-electric homes, eventually all buildings will need to be converted to use electricity rather than gas. Any building constructed today that uses natural gas will need to be retrofitted, which is much more costly than installing the needed electrical infrastructure during construction
New electric appliances are higher quality and more efficient than previous electric technologies.
- Heat pumps work by transferring heat into or out of a space. Since they can either heat or cool, central heating that is powered by a heat pump also replaces the air conditioner unit.
- Induction stoves use magnets to directly heat up the pot or pan, which makes them more efficient, faster, and safer than a gas stove. The element cools almost immediately after the pot is removed, reducing burn risks. They are also flat, so they are easier to clean.
Other Benefits of the Reach Code Proposal
This proposal strengthens rooftop solar requirements for new construction.
- This proposal calls for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to be installed on new non-residential and high-rise multifamily buildings. It requires solar to meet 50% of the building’s expected electricity demand, or cover 50% of rooftop space. Rooftop solar is already required for new single-family and low-rise multifamily buildings under California rules.
- Because a low percentage of new buildings are constructed or rebuilt every year, electrification via this ordinance will result in a slow, incremental growth to Glendale’s electric demand. Solar panels installed on these new buildings will offset a significant portion of the incremental electricity demand.
This proposal adds EV charging requirements for new construction
- Transportation is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in Glendale and the state as a whole. The state has established 2035 as the year when gas-powered cars will no longer be available to purchase in California. Requiring some level of EV-installed, EV-ready, and EV-capable parking spots at new buildings will save building owners money over time and allow for more equitable growth of electrical vehicle use and access.
- Glendale staff has proposed adding EV charging equipment beyond what the California Building Code will require in 2022 (2). The proposals would add more charging infrastructure in new multifamily buildings and would go beyond state requirements for non-residential buildings as well. The Glendale Sustainability Commission recommended strengthening the EV charging reach code substantially by requiring all spaces in multifamily buildings to at least be ready to have an EV charger installed and to double the requirements for non-residential buildings. The Glendale Building Electrification Working Group supports the Sustainability Commission’s recommendations.
Reach codes are a proven policy that cities across the state have adopted.
- As of July 2022, 59 California communities have adopted all-electric building codes for new construction. Los Angeles County, Pasadena, Santa Monica, and the City of Los Angeles are currently taking steps to establish this type of policy.
About the Proposal
This proposal is for new construction only.
- This proposal does not require changes to existing buildings, although we have called for it to be extended to substantial renovations, where more than 50% of the building is changed, by January 2024.
- In-progress projects that have submitted plans to the City before January 1, 2023, are not affected by this policy.
- The proposal includes a waiver for physical infeasibility, allowing developers to install gas equipment where it is not feasible to install electric equipment.
(1) International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 42, Issue 6, December 2013, Pages 1724–1737, https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyt150
(2) EV charging requirements vary by building type, with the Building Code requiring single-family homes, duplexes, and townhomes to have wiring in place for EV charger installations, and some parking spaces at multifamily buildings required to have, at a minimum, wiring in place, or also have a charger or receptacle. Glendale staff has proposed going beyond the Building Code’s mandated levels, so that new multifamily buildings with less than 20 units would be required to have the wiring in place to make 40% of parking spaces ready for EV charging, and for those with more than 20 units, 15% of those parking spaces would need to have EV chargers installed.