February 2023

Reach Code News Brief: February 2023

Encinitas, Piedmont Kick off new year with approved reach codes

At its first Business Meeting of 2023 on January 25, the Energy Commission approved two new reach codes from the Cities of Encinitas and Piedmont. Both jurisdictions focused on measures pertaining to existing buildings. A summary of each city's approved provisions includes:


City of Encinitas

  • Photovoltaic system for additions to existing nonresidential, high rise residential, mixed-use and hotel/motel buildings where the roof area is increased by at least 1000 square feet, or where the permit value of alterations that affect 75% of the gross floor area is at least $1,000,000.
  • One efficiency measure from a menu of options for additions and alterations to existing single family homes or existing multi-family buildings where the building permit evaluation is at least $50,000. Efficiency requirements apply to the entire dwelling unit. The menu includes envelope, lighting, cooking, laundry, space, water heating, and photovoltaic and electric ready improvements.

City of Piedmont

  • Alterations or additions to single family buildings with a project value of $30,000 or more must include one energy efficiency measure from a list of eight that includes envelope, lighting, space heating, and water heating improvements.
  • Alterations or additions to single family buildings with a project value of $115,000 or more must include two energy efficiency measures from a list of eight that includes envelope, lighting, space heating, and water heating improvements.
  • Additions to single family homes that add an upper level or increase the building’s roof area by 30 percent are required to install photovoltaic systems.

Visitors can browse our website for detailed information about adopted reach codes throughout the state (map view or the adopted ordinances list).


Cost Effectiveness Explorer new data

The Cost Effectiveness Explorer team is happy to announce that data from the 2022 Nonresidential New Construction Cost-effectiveness Study is now available in the online tool!

This statewide study examined the cost-effectiveness of six measure packages that included electrification, energy efficiency, load flexibility, solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage requirements for nonresidential buildings that exceed the 2022 California Building Energy Efficiency Standards Title 24, Part 6 (note that the Explorer tool presents only code-compliant packages).

The building prototypes analyzed include a medium-sized office building (3 stories, 53, 628 ft2), a medium-sized retail building (1-story, 24,563 ft2), a quick service restaurant (1-story, 2,501 ft2), and a small hotel (4-story, 42,554 ft2).

Visit the Cost Effectiveness Explorer to view results and download the study.

Upcoming Events

March 6: Energy Commission Monthly Business Meeting

March 8: 3C-REN Training: 2022 Energy Code: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

March 8: Statewide Reach Codes webinar: Results from the 2022 Multifamily New Construction Cost-Effectiveness Study

March 16: 3C-REN webinar: Inflation Reduction Act Part 2: Stacking IRA funds with 3C-REN Incentives for Buyers and Sellers (Real Estate Focus)

March 16: CivicWell 31st Annual Policymaker's Conference. Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove CA

March 21: BayREN Regional Forum: Decarbonization: Implications for Gas System & What Local Govts are Doing

March 29: BayREN Training: Residential Alterations

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New This Month!

Opening frame of Reaching Beyond New Construction webinar

Reaching Beyond New Construction: A Webinar Discussion with Local Jurisdiction Staff on Existing Building Policy

The Statewide Reach Codes Program collaborated with several regional and national organizations to host a recent webinar focused on existing building reach code development efforts. The collaborators included BayRENBuilding Decarbonization Coalition3C-REN, and the California Climate and Energy Collaborative.

The webinar, held Tuesday February 7, 2023, featured Andrea Chow, Sustainability Analyst for the City of San Mateo, Brian Reyes, Sustainability Planner for the Marin County Community Development Agency, and Christine Tam, Senior Resource Planner for the City of Palo Alto Utilities Department. Gray Gautereaux, Energy Program Manager for Tri-County Regional Energy Network (3C-REN) moderated.

After a brief overview of state level policy efforts, the webinar turned to the local experiences of these three jurisdictions in crafting and implementing reach code measures for existing buildings.

Chow described San Mateo’s ordinance, which includes:

  • Panel replacement and panel upgrade projects to include panel capacity/breaker space for future electrification
  • Residential kitchen and laundry renovations to include installation of an outlet to allow for the use of electric appliances in the future
  • Ban on extending fuel gas infrastructure for uses such as new fireplaces, fire pits, grills, and pools
  • Installation of heat pump air conditioning when new air conditioning is installed or replaced
  • Installation of heat pump water heater during addition and alteration projects that include water heater replacement

Tam summarized the City of Palo Alto’s ordinance, which includes:

  • New outdoor equipment (e.g., grill, stove, BBQ, fireplace, pool/spa heater) must be electric
  • Heat pump water heater when replacing or adding a water heater as part of a residential addition or alteration project
  • “Substantial Remodel” of an existing home triggers whole-home all-electric requirements
  • Low Carbon Concrete requirements for all Tier 1 & Tier 2 projects (as defined in the ordinance)

Reyes outlined the County of Marin’s efforts summarized here:

  • All-electric code for new construction
  • EV infrastructure reach code for new construction and renovations
  • Energy reach code for single-family renovations >750 sq.ft.
  • Low carbon concrete code updated

The session concluded with a moderated discussion amongst the panelists, addressing questions submitted by attendees.

On the topic of exemptions, Chow shared that while the jurisdiction focused on “intervention points” where electrification would be most relevant, because cost was such an important concern of stakeholders, the city ultimately drafted an economic hardship exemption. Reyes noted that the County conducted extensive outreach specifically to renters to determine its approach to exemptions. Tam observed that in Palo Alto, zoning requirements impacted some of the existing building provisions and the planning department was addressing those issues.

All three panelists shared their thoughts on the importance of outreach. Reyes described the stakeholder mapping that staff conducted at the County as well as the efforts to fully engage both internal and external populations. Chow noted that outreach must be broad-based to capture the attention of as many stakeholders as possible. Tam shared that one of Palo Alto’s tools is an advisory group whose members represent a range of stakeholders and can act as a ‘braintrust’ for local staff.

Each of the panelists also emphasized the importance of using existing resources to supplement the local staff work. These included partnering with different departments internally as well as external partners such as CCAs and RENs, other jurisdictions, and the statewide program for model language, outreach programs, and technical resources.

Copies of the presentation materials are available here. A recording of the webinar is available here.

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