New buildings to go all electric as part of Sacramento’s fight against climate change

Continuing its effort to fight climate change, the Sacramento City Council Tuesday adopted an updated ordinance requiring new buildings to run on electricity rather than gas starting next year.

While the update is mostly technical in nature, it clarifies important elements of the electrification ordinance that was passed in June 2022. The new ordinance aligns the City of Sacramento building code with the California state building code, adds an appeals process, and better defines the requirements on what constitutes an “all-electric building.”

Three-story or smaller buildings will need to meet the requirements starting in 2023, while four-story and larger buildings will have until 2026.

“We are facing an existential climate change crisis, and we need to do everything we can to move away from fossil fuels,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “Shifting from gas to electric power is a big part of that effort.”

The city ordinance update does not affect existing buildings. The electrification ordinance as passed in June 2021 exempts specific uses, such as cooking equipment in ground-floor restaurants, until January 2026. After that date, they can obtain waivers if the technology to make them gas-free is not feasible and readily available.

Restauranteurs who want to use gas cooking will still be able to use spaces that already have that infrastructure in place.

“The Chamber is happy to support passage of the electrification ordinance and the chamber is committed to working with the City of Sacramento on its commitment to electrification and the environment,” said Pat Fong Kushida, President and CEO of the Sacramento Asian Chamber of Commerce.

Electrifying buildings was determined to be a key strategy in achieving carbon neutrality and is one of the recommendations from the City’s Preliminary Draft Climate Action Plan (CAP) and the Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change (MCCC) Final Report. Reducing the amount of new construction with fossil fuel infrastructure will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

“City Council’s approval of the ordinance and processes for new building electrification provide a path to expand the use of cleaner and more affordable power in an equitable manner,” said the City’s Climate Action Lead Jennifer Venema. “City staff has worked diligently with City Council, community and businesses to create an ordinance that decarbonizes buildings while supporting the continued vibrancy of our diverse community and businesses.”

SMUD currently offers a range of rebates to switch from gas to electric appliances for current customers.

To learn more about building electrification and the updated building codes visit the electrification page on the City of Sacramento’s website here.