San Jose Adopts All-Electrification For High-Rises

In mid-September, the City adopted a new “stretch” energy code, but this would be a little different than existing stretch codes farther east. If the California Energy Commission grants approval, San Jose would become the biggest city in the US to adopt all-electrification requirements for new high-rise residential buildings and gas bans on commercial construction.

The City “also wants to require 70% of parking spots in new apartments to at least have the infrastructure for charging ports.” The code also calls for all buildings to be solar-ready. Gas is technically still an option, though buildings employing gas heating would need to meet higher energy efficiency requirements and still provide the necessary electric infrastructure to easily switch to electric appliances later. A companion ordinance in October looks to require all new municipal buildings, single-family and low-rise multifamily housing to go all-electric.

Some worried about the cost ramifications of the new policy on projects that haven’t applied for permits yet. City councilors aim to explore “funding, financing and partnerships that would offset costs for installing solar & battery storage and electric car infrastructure in new affordable housing.”

Increased energy efficiency reduces operating costs, so this move will be financially advantageous for property owners as time goes on. City staff and Councilwoman Pam Foley also pointed out that, “In the long run, if a builder doesn’t have to put in gas and electric, bottom line is the cost is going to be cheaper.”

There are also concerns about how reach codes might impact the stability of the electrical grid. To help determine the effect, city officials had to submit the new reach code proposals to the California Energy Commission by September 30 and to the state’s Building Standards Commission before the end of 2019.