Reach Codes and Home Energy Assessment Policy:  Information for Architects, Real Estate Agents, Planners, & Homeowners

REACH CODE INITIATIVE

The California Building Standards Code (California Code of Regulations, Title 24) sets statewide building code standards. Title 24, Part 6, also known as the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards or "Energy Code", contains mandatory measures for residential buildings (single family and multi-family) and non-residential buildings and sets an energy budget for each type of building. Title 24, Part 11, also known as the California Green Building Standards Code, contains mandatory requirements for all types of buildings in areas such as green materials and recycling, water efficiency, and electric vehicle charging.

Title 24 receives updates every three years to incorporate the latest changes in construction and technology. The latest update (2019 Energy Code) went into effect on January 1, 2020 and will expire on December 31, 2022. Starting January 1, 2023, the 2022 Energy Code will go into effect. The 2022 Energy Code encourages efficient electric heat pumps, establishes electric-ready requirements for new homes, expands solar photovoltaic and battery storage standards, strengthens ventilation standards, and more.

When the Energy Code is updated, all cities and counties need to adopt the new Code and any local amendments to the Code. Accordingly, in order to continue Piedmont's current reach code requirements, a new reach code must be adopted this year to be effective along with the 2022 California Building Standards Code in January 2023. Please read below to learn about the City's 2022 reach code initiative. 

PIEDMONT'S CURRENT REACH CODE

During its February 1, 2021 regular meeting, Piedmont’s City Council adopted reach codes that require electrification and energy efficiency measures for new construction and existing residential building renovations. The reach codes are designed to meet the City’s Climate Action goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and natural gas usage in residential buildings. Natural gas use in residential buildings consistently comprises nearly half of Piedmont's in-territory greenhouse gas emissions. The reach code (Ordinance 750 N.S.) went into effect on June 1, 2021. 

To read Ordinance 750 N.S. (reach code), please click here.


Ordinance 750 N.S. includes the following requirements:
  • Newly constructed low-rise residential buildings and new detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) must use all electric building appliances. No gas lines can be hooked up to these buildings.
    • Projects that include an entirely new level or expand the total roof area by 30% or more, must install solar panels on the roof.
  • A renovation project that costs $25,000 or more must include an energy efficient insulation or heating system electrification improvement to include in the renovation.
  • A renovation project that costs $100,000 or more must include two energy efficient insulation or heating system electrification improvements to include in the renovation.
    • 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. This modification is included so homes that have been pursuing energy efficiency measures can be recognized for their efforts.
  • 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.

2022 REACH CODE 

For the next set of reach codes, staff recommends the readoption of the local amendments to the Energy, Residential, and Electrical Code made in Ordinance 750 N.S. with minor updates to conform to the 2022 State Standards. Readoption of the recommended code revisions and ordinance will help residents reduce their natural gas use, transition to renewable electricity as a building energy source, and prepare for future power outages.

On September 19, 2022, the City Council held a first reading of an ordinance (Ord. 766 N.S.) pertaining to the 2022 reach codes. 

To help inform the City's next iteration of reach code development, City staff launched the 2022 reach code public engagement process. This has included the following:

  • City Council Meetings
    • At the May 2, 2022 City Council meeting, City staff provided an update on the implementation of reach codes and related updates to state law. A link to the staff report can be found here.
  • Community Forum
    • City staff held an in-person community forum on Wednesday, April 20, 2022 from 6:00-7:30pm at Piedmont Community Hall. Staff presented an overview of Piedmont's current reach code, the 2022 Energy Code, and initial considerations for the next set of reach codes, followed by discussion/workshop to hear from meeting attendees their thoughts and opinions about the current and future set of reach codes.
  • Online Community Survey
    • City staff circulated an online survey to all those who live and work in Piedmont in May 2022 to provide feedback about Piedmont's current reach code and suggestions for the next round. The online survey is now closed. Click the link below to read the survey topline results. 

If you have questions or comments regarding Piedmont's reach codes, please contact us at [email protected]

WHAT IS A REACH CODE?

A reach code is an ordinance adopted by a local government that requires something in addition to the requirements of the state's building code. Reach codes can address all types of buildings: new buildings, existing buildings, single family buildings, multi-family dwellings, commercial buildings, and industrial buildings. Reach codes that are related to energy efficiency must be proven to be cost-effective. To be cost effective, the money saved from the reduced energy costs needs to be enough to cover the initial cost within a reasonable period of time. Reach codes must go through a public process for approval. 

WHY ADOPT A REACH CODE?

Reach codes are tools local governments can use to help reach various policy goals such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, meeting Climate Action Plan goals, saving energy and money over time, and increasing building resilience. Decades of investment in renewable energy combined with technological improvements in efficient electric appliances has enabled significant advancements in the area of building and vehicle electrification. Compared to fossil fuels, the economic, environmental, and societal benefits of electrification are substantial. Ultimately, by powering buildings and vehicles in Piedmont with clean electricity, our community will be on a path toward achieving our greenhouse gas reduction and sustainability goals. Further, Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan 2.0 sets an ambitious goal of reducing in-territory greenhouse gas emissions 80% between 2005 and 2050. The Piedmont community will not meet its 2050 target unless natural gas appliances are phased out of use (see below). Beyond releasing carbon emissions, natural gas appliances emit a variety of other dangerous pollutants when used. Decreasing natural gas use will decrease homeowners’ exposure to these dangerous pollutants. The vast majority of Piedmont residences and businesses receive electricity generated by 100% renewable sources by virtue of being customers of East Bay Community Energy’s Renewable 100 electricity service. Building electrification and solar panel installation, will increase the amount of building energy supplied from renewable electricity and decrease the amount supplied from natural gas.
 Current emissions vs. Emissions goals

WHAT RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE FOR FINANCIAL REBATES AND INCENTIVES?

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

 

HOME ENERGY ASSESSMENT POLICY 

In tandem with the reach code, the City Council adopted a Home Energy Assessment Policy. The Home Energy Assessment Policy requires each person who sells a home in Piedmont to provide a Home Energy Score or a Home Energy Audit prepared in the past 5 years to prospective buyers and the City, in addition to all other disclosure documents. The Home Energy Score or Home Energy Audit is not required if the home was constructed in the past 10 years. The policy is intended to provide important important information regarding the energy use, and the costs associated with that energy use, of the building(s) offered for sale. The Home Energy Assessment Policy (Ordinance 751 N.S.) went into effect on March 3, 2021. 

To read Ordinance 751 N.S. (home energy assessment policy), please click here.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE HOME ENERGY ASSESSMENT POLICY?

  • If your home is listed for sale on or after March 3, 2021, you must include a Home Energy Score or Home Energy Audit with other relevant information provided to potential buyers and the City.
  • Home Energy Scores cost a few hundred dollars, averaging $200-500:
    • A $200 rebate for home energy scores and more information from the official Bay Area assessor can be found at their website here: http://www.homescoreca.org/
    • BayREN has additional information about Home Energy Scores on their website: https://www.bayren.org/hes
  • Home Energy Audits can cost several hundred dollars, averaging $500-1,000:
    • Home Energy Audits are more expensive than Home Energy Scores, but they also provide a more thorough analysis of your home. Most HVAC companies can provide this service.
  • BayREN hosts an online search tool to find locally trained contractors and provides contact information to speak with a Home Energy Advisor, free of charge.  


WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HOME ENERGY SCORE AND A HOME ENERGY AUDIT?

  • Home Energy Scores are guided by a series of requirements from the Department of Energy and can help homeowners identify areas to improve energy efficiency in their homes and save money. An assessor will do a walk through and provide suggestions and a score from 1-10, with 10 being the best score. A Home Energy Score will take less than 3 hours to complete and will generally cost less than $600. You can see a sample Home Energy Score from the DOE here
  • A Home Energy Audit is more expensive and time consuming, but will also provide more detailed suggestions for energy improvements. While a Home Energy Score may just include a walkthrough, an Audit will include measurements in each room of the home. You can see a sample Home Energy Audit here.  


WHERE CAN I FIND A HOME ENERGY SCORE OR A HOME ENERGY AUDIT PROVIDER?