While it is challenging right now to focus our attention on other things, the Los Altos Environmental Commission and the city of Los Altos continue to pursue progress toward our Climate Action Plan goals. Our current focus is the city’s proposed reach codes. We will be hosting a webinar at 7 p.m. today to present the proposed codes and answer questions.
What are reach codes? They are local building energy codes that “reach” beyond the state minimum requirements for energy efficiency in building design. In the past several months, many Bay Area cities have adopted reach codes that either limit or prohibit the use of natural gas in construction, as well as increase electric-vehicle charging infrastructure. The city of Los Altos is evaluating a reach code that would require new commercial and residential buildings to be 100% electric and increase “EV-read” parking spaces in new developments.
Why would we want to limit natural gas? For many years, natural gas was considered a lower-emission energy source than electricity, but this has changed as our electricity generation sources have shifted away from fossil fuels to renewable energies. In Los Altos, 35% of our greenhouse gas emissions come from natural gas use in our homes and buildings.
Transportation remains the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in our city, accounting for 58% of the total. We have already seen a reduction in these emissions thanks to more electric-vehicle miles and we can continue to reduce the impact of these trips by increasing the capacity in our homes and buildings to charge electric vehicles.
We understand that the community will have questions and concerns about these changes. First, we want to reiterate that these changes only apply to new construction, so you will not lose your existing gas appliances should you need to repair them or even when significantly remodeling your home or business. Designing all-electric buildings from the start is not only cost-effective, but will have a positive impact over the 50- to 100-year life of that building.
More answers to common questions about reach codes (for example, performance, efficiency and cost of all electric homes and the potential impact of electricity outages) can be found on the city’s web page at losaltosca.gov/communitydevelopment/page/reach-codes.
We hope you will join us at today’s webinar to learn more and give your input. To register, visit eventbrite.com/e/city-of-los-altos-reach-codes-informational-webinar-tickets-102843373298.
Laura Teksler is a member of the Los Altos Environmental Commission.