Updated Reach Codes Approved by California Energy Commission
Posted on 02/03/2023

Updated Piedmont "Reach Codes" Approved by California Energy Commission

Published February 3, 2023

The California Energy Commission approved Piedmont’s updated “reach codes” at their January 25, 2023 meeting, formalizing this set of local energy efficiency requirements for building projects that reach beyond statewide standards.

Piedmont’s reach codes require that all new single-family homes and detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) be all-electric. Additionally, the reach codes require energy efficiency measures be included in certain renovations to existing properties:

  • Electric panel replacements or upgrades must have capacity to accommodate future electrification of all appliances

  • Kitchen or laundry area renovation projects must install outlets that allow for the use of electric appliances in the future

  • Renovations or additions to existing homes that meet certain project value thresholds must incorporate one or more items from a menu of energy efficiency and electrification measures, such as installing insulation in attics or walls, replacing gas furnaces or water heaters with heat pump alternatives, or swapping incandescent light fixtures with LEDs

  • Projects that add a new upper level or increase the building’s roof area by 30% or more must install a photovoltaic (solar power) system

Improving energy efficiency in existing buildings key to advancing City climate goals

When Piedmont first adopted reach codes in 2021, it was one of the first cities in California to implement reach codes that apply to renovation projects in existing buildings in addition to new construction.

Because the city is largely built out, improving energy efficiency in existing buildings is a critical part of meeting emissions reduction targets set in the City’s Climate Action Plan. Currently, natural gas use in residential buildings comprises about half of Piedmont’s in-territory greenhouse gas emissions.

Reach codes, combined with other City initiatives like the recently-launched home electrification rebate pilot program, play an important role in reducing the amount of energy used heating and cooling homes across Piedmont. Piedmont’s original reach codes have helped improve energy efficiency in over 150 home renovation projects.

Minor changes in 2023 reach codes

The updated reach codes are largely identical to the original set. Because reach codes are local amendments to statewide building codes, Piedmont must re-adopt its reach codes every time the State updates its building standards – which happens every three years. The most recent update to the State code took effect on January 1, 2023.

Changes include:

  • minor terminology changes to align with updated language in the State code

  • increase in the project value thresholds that trigger reach codes for renovation projects, to accommodate rising construction costs

  • addition of a new energy efficiency measure (exterior wall insulation) to the menu of options for renovation projects

Multifamily reach codes in development

Existing reach codes apply only to single-family homes. The City is currently in the process of developing reach codes for multi-family properties. Community members can help inform what electrification and energy efficiency measures will be part of the multi-family reach codes by completing a brief online survey.

For more information on reach codes, visit the City’s reach code webpage. For questions about the updated reach codes, contact Sustainability Program Manager Alyssa Dykman at [email protected].