New buildings may go all electric with proposed City ordinance 

In an effort to fight climate change and improve air quality in Sacramento, the City Council on June 1 will consider a new ordinance that would require new homes, low-rise apartment buildings and commercial structures to run entirely on electricity, with a phased in approach starting in 2023.

“Shifting new buildings to electricity ensures they are clean, affordable and resilient,” said Jennifer Venema, interim climate action lead for the City of Sacramento. “This is why building electrification is a key principle for the 2040 General Plan, as committed to by the City Council.”

Gas heating and cooking is a significant source of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, the effects of which are increasingly being felt in Sacramento and California as summers become hotter and drier, Venema said.

To date, 44 other cities in California have adopted electrification ordinances that are already in effect or go into effect before 2023, including San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.   

To help people better understand what Sacramento’s proposed ordinance would and wouldn’t do, the City has created the following FAQ. You also can learn more by visiting the City’s new building electrification ordinance webpage.

Q: What is the new building electrification ordinance?  

A: The proposed ordinance requires that new buildings be all electric, with no gas or propane infrastructure. The ordinance slowly ramps up by development type and size, from 2023 to 2026.

What does the ordinance apply to?  

It only applies to new buildings. The ordinance does not apply to existing buildings, remodels of existing buildings, tenant improvements or expansions.  

Who will this affect?  

It will affect only those developing new buildings. The ordinance doesn’t apply to existing construction.  

What about existing buildings?  

The ordinance does not regulate existing buildings, and there’s no proposed requirements to retrofit or replace of appliances in existing buildings.  

Why is the City doing this?  

Electrifying new buildings is an important strategy to ensure new buildings are efficient, clean and resilient. In August 2020, the City Council prioritized the ordinance as a critical near-term action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve climate goals. The ordinance advances a key recommendation of the Mayor’s Commission on Climate Change. 

When you use gas in your home, such as a gas stove for cooking food, the combustion creates air pollutants. Not only does this pollution create dirtier air and contribute to ozone, but studies have shown that using a gas stove increases the likelihood of asthma in children.

What is the economic impact of going all electric?

When new buildings use electricity rather than natural gas, these buildings are not just better for the environment and the health of those living in them, but they are also cheaper in almost every development type. Studies show that residents in these new electric buildings will also save hundreds of dollars in electricity costs.

If this passes, when will the new ordinance go into effect?

If the ordinance is passed by City Council on June 1, the first phases of implementation will begin Jan. 1, 2023. Constructing new buildings to be all electric takes advantage of the clean power that SMUD produces, maximizing the benefit of SMUD’s commitment to zero-carbon electricity by 2030.

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