Electrify Everything (Except for …): Understanding Reach Code Exemptions

An important and often overlooked part of a reach code is the exemptions. Exemptions can be put in place for a variety of reasons, ranging from recognizing situations where reach code requirements are not feasible to political concessions needed to enact a reach code. As such, exemptions can help a reach code to work smoothly and avoid unintended consequences but can also provide a loophole for those who don’t want to comply. In addition, exemptions can be specific (does not include pools) or general (anything that is not feasible).

Although many jurisdictions have adopted reach codes to require all-electric new construction projects, decarbonizing existing buildings is critical to achieving local, state, and federal emissions reductions goals. The variety of buildings, construction methods, site features, and infrastructure in existing buildings can present implementation challenges for some projects that require special consideration, sometimes warranting an exemption from the reach code requirements. Common challenges include funding limitations for permit applicants, a potentially undesirable impact to local industry, technical/technology-related issues (no commercially available replacement), or site-related constraints (no suitable location for equipment). This session will delve into the options and trade-offs involved in developing and enforcing reach code exemptions that address these challenges while preserving benefits. In addition to introductory presentations, we will use role-playing, audience participation, and facilitated group discussion to engage attendees with the key issues. The session will enable attendees to better understand the options and issues related to exemptions as well as the perspectives and constraints of key stakeholders.


  • Misti Bruceri, Misti Bruceri and Associates, LLC, Principal
  • Katen Kristiansson, BayREN, Codes and Standards Program Manager
  • Lawrence Garber, Building Decarbonization Coalition, Local Government Associate
  • Greg Mahoney, County of Sacramento, Chief Building Official
  • Bill Kelley, County of Marin, Deputy Director of Building and Safety