Q&A with Neal deSnoo and Mayra Vega: Using Implementation Tools to Streamline Reach Code Compliance
This is the first installment of a two-part series exploring implementation tools.
Neal DeSnoo has over 35 years of local energy policy experience, primarily serving the cities of Berkeley and Chicago. As a consultant, he provides guidance and support for the development of clean energy policies and projects, currently including the development of model reach codes and supporting materials. Previously Neal managed Berkeley’s Office of Energy and Sustainable Development where he was responsible for providing strategic direction to the City’s sustainability efforts and directly managing programs related to climate change, clean energy and green building.
Mayra Vega has over 10 years of experience in the power consulting industry and building energy efficiency research. She is currently a Senior Project Manager for TRC Companies. She has a background in engineering, with a specific emphasis in the utilities sector working with Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Roseville Electric Utility (REU), Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE), San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and Central Coast Community Energy (CCCE).
Q: Can you tell us a little about how these tools came to be developed?
Mayra: In the previous code cycle, there were a number of local jurisdictions that were requesting help in the form of some practical checklists to help educate their internal permitting departments as well as applicants. The first edition of these checklists was developed then. For this code cycle, these prior versions were updated by the wide group of collaborators described below.
The achievement of creating a complete set of standardized checklists that will apply to virtually every type of project—whether it is a nonresidential new construction project or a single-family addition—means that local teams tasked with implementation and compliance now have a resource they can rely on day in and day out.
Q: Who was involved in developing the tools?
Neal: It really has been a statewide and highly collaborative effort. Not only is the statewide reach codes team involved, but there has been collaboration from the RENs, CCAs, individual jurisdictions, national organizations like Building Decarbonization Coalition, and individual consultants with deep expertise in reach code development and implementation.
The collaboration has been extremely successful and beneficial because any jurisdiction across the state can utilize the checklists, regardless of who their energy provider is.
Q: Who does use these checklists?
Mayra: They can be used by staff who developed the local reach code measure as a way of conducting internal training for permitting and plan checking staff. They will also be used by project applicants for use in submitting permit applications and getting project approval.
They help eliminate churn in the early stages of project permitting and save a lot of time both for applicants and plan checkers.
Q: Where can I get a set?
Neal: The resources are free and available on multiple websites, such as localenergycodes.com and bayareareachcodes.org. They’re provided in a very user-friendly format as Word templates that can be branded by an individual jurisdiction if desired. Download new construction checklists here and checklists for additions/alterations here.
Q: How do you see these evolving in future cycles?
Mayra: They’re already evolving! We’ve seen specific jurisdictions use some specific checklists and identify aspects that can be improved or strengthened. That’s one reason the collaboration has been so valuable. These tools can be improved continuously throughout the 2022 code cycle.
Neal: Yes, as more jurisdictions pass ordinances in the 2022 code cycle, there will be new needs emerging for checklists to include aspects that may not have been included yet. These are truly living assets that can and should continue to evolve.
Q: Who can local staff contact if they have questions or want to participate?
Mayra: We would be happy to reply to questions. Staff can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neal: I’m happy to answer questions or accept feedback on existing checklists at email@example.com.
Next month, we'll take a look at the training materials being developed for local governments on use of these implementation tools.