City of Piedmont Focuses on Residential Retrofits in its First-Ever Reach Code
The City of Piedmont, once known as ‘The City of Millionaires,’ today is a lively community located in the Oakland Hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Home to 11,000 residents, the City is highly residential with large, established single-family homes on quiet, tree-lined streets. When the City adopted the second version of its Climate Action Plan in 2018, it set an ambitious goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and culminating in an 80% reduction by 2050. Because the City and its residents already receive most of its electricity from renewable resources, the sustainability team began to seek out other approaches to continue progressing toward the CAP goals.
Given the highly built out state of the City’s neighborhoods, as well as the fact that most homes are single-family and of older vintages, City staff began to explore opportunities to advance electrification of these existing homes. The team conducted extensive outreach with City residents over the course of several weeks in early 2020. A town hall forum in late January was followed by four additional workshops during which residents, business owners, contractors and other stakeholders provided feedback. Additionally, City staff conducted a public survey, gathering responses via online forms. All the feedback was incorporated into the policy development process. Once proposed ordinances were developed, City staff engaged an opinion research firm to conduct a random-sample public survey in June 2020 to assess community opinion. This revealed strong support for the proposed measures. A second public survey conducted in late 2020 confirmed the same level of support.
Speaking of the widespread public support for the measures, Sustainability Manager Alyssa Dykman said, “We were committed to capturing a comprehensive reflection of perspectives from the community and were gratified at the strong support, consistently ranging around two-thirds of survey participants.”
The Piedmont City Council adopted the proposed measures on February 1, 2021. These measures included:
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 the roof.
A renovation project on a low-rise residential building that costs $25,000 or more, requires the applicant to choose one item from a menu of energy efficient insulation or heating system electrification improvements. A renovation project that costs $100,000 or more requires inclusion of two items.
Electrical panel upgrades must include capacity in the panel to accommodate future electrification of all appliances in the residence.
Kitchen or laundry area renovations must include electrical outlets for future appliance installation.
At point of listing for sale, a report from a Home Energy Audit or Home Energy Score must be provided to potential buyers and submitted to the City unless the home was constructed in the past 10 years.
The City maintains a robust webpage of resources for residents and contractors, including FAQs, checklists and information about rebates and other incentives.