Take Action! Advocacy Updates for November 17

 · November 17, 2022

Local Updates – Reach Codes

The reach code season is coming to a close, and there are more climate wins to report! As a reminder, building reach codes are an important means for local entities to accelerate climate action by “reaching” beyond the minimum standards set by the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. The City of San Mateo adopted one of the strongest reach codes for new and existing buildings of any city in California. This updated reach code for San Mateo requires all newly constructed buildings be electric (although commercial kitchens and biotech labs can apply for an exception), and the ordinance addresses existing building construction through rules on remodels as follows:

  • Panel upgrades in residential buildings will require sizing for future electrification, while all residential kitchen and laundry renovations in single-family homes must include outlet installation for future electric use.

  • Residential buildings will be prohibited from applying for a fuel gas infrastructure extension for fire pits, grills and pools.

  • When an air conditioning (A/C) replacement is needed, a heat pump A/C will be required; and when a hot water heater is replaced, that replacement needs to be a heat pump water heater if the replacement is part of a renovation, addition, or alteration project that includes water heater replacement.

San Mateo City’s reach code also included EV infrastructure requirements: All new homes must have a Level 2 EV Ready space and an additional Level 1 EV Ready space if a second space is provided; residential and office buildings must also build up Level 2 charging station capacity. The San Mateo Climate Action team played a major role in getting this landmark ordinance across the finish line, along with other activists from Fossil Free Buildings Silicon Valley (FFBSV). 

San Carlos is hosting a Home Electrification Workshop. If you are curious about how San Carlos should reduce gas use and electrify homes, or want to learn about resources and incentive programs that you can take advantage of to go electric now, please register here.

  – Jared Johnson, Policy and External Relations Senior Manager

EV Advocacy Updates

Reaching for equitable EV charging in San José

As JJ has noted, this fall has seen many cities in California updating their reach codes. We’re pleased that the nation’s tenth largest city, San José, is considering an EV charging reach code that would give EV Ready charging to 100% of new multi-family units with access to parking. Acterra and allies have been urging elected officials to support this reach code, which would greatly lower barriers to EV adoption for the significant proportion of city residents who live in apartments and condos. 

San José’s current reach code ensures EV Ready charging for 30% of new multi-family housing parking spaces (meaning those spaces have everything needed–including an outlet or actual charging equipment (called EVSE)–to be “ready to charge”). The code also requires builders to make 70% of the spaces EV Capable (meaning that raceways are pre-installed and there is panel space with sufficient incoming power in order to later wire the space for EV charging). 

However, it’s proven virtually impossible for residents to convert these theoretically EV Capable spaces into spaces that are actually capable of charging an EV. To do so, they must: (1) obtain approval from the apartment manager or HOA, (2) secure a permit, (3) hire an electrician to add wiring, breaker, and receptacle or EVSE, and (4) pay for the cost of the equipment and labor (as much as $9000). This means that EV Capable in theory is EV Incapable in practice. 

Recognizing this limitation, San José is considering increasing access to truly EV Ready charging via a reach code update. The City has just completed a marginal cost analysis with stakeholder input and will share the results with the Transportation and Environment (T&E) Committee on December 5. If approved there, this item will go to the full Council on December 13. 

Speak up for equity! Help us convince San José to take this step. Urge the City Council to ensure universal and equitable access to EV charging for all residents of new apartments and condos: send Mayor Liccardo this email today. Thank you.

Linda Hutchins-Knowles, E-Mobility and Advocacy Senior Manager

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