Reach Codes
Posted on 09/18/2020

The City of Piedmont is currently considering the adoption of Reach Codes, which are enhancements to the building code which help the City meet the Climate Action Goals set by the City Council in the City’s Climate Action Plan. 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 question before it considered the regulations for final approval.

This community outreach process included a town hall meeting on September 3rd, to help residents learn more about the proposed reach codes. Following a short presentation addressing some of the issues, a panel provided responses to questions submitted by attendees.

The second reading of the Reach Code ordinances has not been scheduled but will occur at a City Council meeting later in the year. In approving the first reading of the Ordinances on July 20th, the City Council asked staff to provide additional clarification about the proposed solar panel installation and renovation insulation/electrification requirements in the agenda report for the second reading. That information can be found in the draft agenda report for the 2nd reading, the FAQs, and the video of the Town Hall Please click on the links below to find this information.

Documents

Click on one of the links above to read the agenda reports for the first and second readings of the ordinances. The reports include the proposed ordinances, as well as links to background documents and details on the public outreach.  Also provided above is a link to Frequently Asked Questions about the proposed regulations and the findings from a random-sample survey of Piedmonters about the City’s emissions reduction strategies. At the bottom of this page are links to other plans and regulations relevant to this matter.

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.

Other Relevant Documents:

 

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.