City of Piedmont Energy Reach Codes

On February 1, 2021 the Piedmont City Council unanimously approved a second reading of proposed energy reach codes. The reach codes are local building energy codes that reach beyond statewide requirements for energy use in building design and construction. Piedmont is one of the first cities nationwide to adopt reach codes for energy efficiency and appliance electrification in new and existing residential buildings.

Ordinance 750 N.S. amends Piedmont’s City Code regarding requirements for energy efficiency measures, photovoltaic systems, and all-electric construction in new or existing low-rise residential buildings. Ordinance 751 N.S. amends City Code to include requirements for the preparation of a Home Energy Audit or Home Energy Score for low-rise residential buildings.

Key components of the reach codes are as follows:
– Newly constructed low-rise residential buildings and new detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs), must use all electric building appliances, and no gas lines can be hooked up to these buildings.
– 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, will require the applicant to choose one item from a list of energy efficient insulation or heating system electrification improvements to include in the renovation. A renovation project on a low-rise residential building that costs $100,000 or more will require the applicant to choose two items.
– The energy efficient insulation or heating system requirement can be modified with a Home Energy Score of at least a 7 completed in the last five years.
– An application for an electrical panel upgrade must include capacity in the panel to accommodate future electrification of all appliances in the residence.
– An application for a kitchen or laundry area renovation must include electrical outlets for future appliance installations.
– At point of listing for sale of a property, a report from a Home Energy Audit or Home Energy Score must be provided to potential buyers and submitted to the City – unless the residential building was constructed in the past 10 years.

Piedmont is a largely residential city located in the East Bay Hills of the San Francisco Bay area with a population of approximately 11,000. City staff initiated the process for adopting the reach codes 18 months ago. Along the way, there have been two public opinion surveys, several workshops, virtual town halls, two City Council meetings, and an ongoing dialogue with community members about the proposed reach codes. These reach codes are put in place in order to reduce Piedmont’s natural gas emissions. The reach codes are intended to slow natural gas usage, while still meeting the community standards outlined in the City’s Climate Action Plan.

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