Regional Energy Networks (RENs) and Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) are also important reach code partners; some CCAs based in Northern California provide financial incentives to residents, businesses and local jurisdictions implementing reach codes.
The activity in the southern part of the state is not a surprise to many, including Amy Rider, Principal of Archamy Consulting, and a reach code consultant to BDC, who works with many Los Angeles-area local governments. Ms. Rider commented, “People are spending so much time at home, between distance learning, sheltering in place and avoiding poor air quality from this season’s wildfires. As a result, we have seen an increased awareness of our appliances and the connection between those appliances, our pocketbooks, and our health. This awareness is definitely translating to a greater interest in energy efficiency and electric appliances, further paving the way for local government action in the form of reach codes.”
The regional landscape changed considerably when the Ojai City Council voted unanimously in November 2020 to adopt an all-electric reach code for nearly all new residential and commercial buildings, making it the first city in Southern California to embrace an all-electric future. Steve Colome, who was appointed by the Mayor to Ojai’s Climate Emergency Mobilization Committee responsible for writing the new ordinance, commented, “We wanted to ‘plant a flag in the ground’ with this reach code and lead. It sends an important signal—greenhouse gases [GHGs] matter.” In another first for Southern California, Ojai’s reach code was spawned by their July 2019 Climate Emergency Declaration Resolution, since it was responsible for the creation of the Committee.
While electrification and reducing GHG emissions are driving reach code momentum for many Southern California local governments, Climate Action Plans and Sustainability Plans are also centers of activity in 2020. Building electrification is now recognized as a major source for GHG savings.
Palm Springs is investigating an electrification-focused reach code, enabled through its Climate Action Roadmap, scheduled for completion in early 2021. Thousand Oaks, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, and others are using comprehensive and strategic energy and environmental planning exercises to consider reach codes. Notably, Thousand Oaks includes reach codes in their new Climate and Environmental Action Plan. Others, such as Ventura County, are using more traditional General Plan Updates (GPUs) for their reach code efforts. Ruben Barrera, Ventura County’s Chief Building Official, said, “Our Board is interested in reducing GHGs, and they recognize that they can get significant reductions through the built environment. Reach codes were included in our GPU.”
Here is a quick look at representative policies and plans that Southern California jurisdictions are using to enable reach codes:
Santa Monica was the first Southern California city to adopt an electric-preferred reach code in late 2019. The city wanted to spur more solar and used building codes in an earlier 2017 reach code to strengthen a 2016 solar mandate while mandating greater energy efficiency.
Earlier this year, multiple City Council members in Culver City expressed a desire to adopt an electrification reach code and incorporate it into the City’s energy efficiency building codes. City staff and a consultant are drafting a reach code to present in 2021.
In 2019-2020, Los Angeles County included a goal to adopt a reach code to help promote building decarbonization as part of their Our County Climate Action Plan. The County is soliciting industry feedback on potential reach code measures now and into early 2021.
In September 2020, Ventura County tied their reach goal to the earlier mentioned GPU and linked it formally to a natural gas ban in new buildings.
South Pasadena’s draft Climate Action Plan from 2020 includes a mitigation measure to adopt an electrification reach code.
The City of Long Beach’s draft Climate Action & Adaptation Plan includes a mitigation measure to “update building codes to reduce emissions in new residential and commercial buildings.” The City is looking at reach codes as a potential measure.
The West Hollywood City Council recently received and filed a mid-project update on their Climate Action Plan, which includes adopting an electrification reach code as a mitigation measure.