County of Santa Clara to Require All-Electric Heating and Appliances, Electric Vehicle Hook-ups in New Buildings

Supervisors passed ordinance that goes beyond State requirements to increase energy efficiency, curb greenhouse gas emissions, and meet climate action goals

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— New buildings in unincorporated parts of Santa Clara County will be required to install all-electric appliances and heating systems, as well as include infrastructure for charging electric vehicles, in accordance with a new County ordinance that goes further than state requirements related to climate change.
 
According to the ordinance, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting, all new construction will be required to use electricity and not natural gas for water heating, space heating, cooking, clothes drying, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, and decorative appliances. New dwellings are also required to have wiring installed that will facilitate installation of battery storage for additional resiliency, cost-effectiveness, and environmental sustainability.
 
High-rise residential, non-residential, and hotel/motel buildings will also be required to have a solar panel system installed.
 
“This is clearly in line with our Climate Action Plan and will help us reach our goal to achieve 100% carbon neutrality by 2045,” said Supervisor Otto Lee. “I’m also excited to see that this ordinance includes EV infrastructure standards for new construction – with electric vehicles gaining popularity, we must keep up with the infrastructure needed to stay on target for our climate change goals.”
 
The ordinance will take effect as early as February 14, 2022, and applies to all building uses with limited exceptions for:
 

  • Junior Accessory Dwelling Units that are contained entirely within a single-family residence that has existing infrastructure such as natural gas piping
  • Hospitals and correctional facilities
  • Buildings in which all-electric appliances are not feasible

 
Any exempted building will be required to be pre-wired for transition to all-electric in the future.
 
“One of the most cost effective and low-risk ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions is through electrification of buildings coupled with encouraging the use of electric vehicles,” said Jasneet Sharma, Director of the Office of Sustainability for the County of Santa Clara. “That means improved indoor air quality and safety for our residents, fewer gas-burning vehicles on our roadways, and less pollutants in the atmosphere.”
 
Requirements for electric vehicle infrastructure range from a minimum of two EV outlets for single-family homes and townhouses to high-capacity charging systems and parking lot spaces reserved for charging use in larger non-residential projects.
 
“It is known that transportation generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions across the country,” said Jacqueline Onciano, Director of the Department of Planning and Development for the County of Santa Clara. “Electrification and the increase of infrastructure to support electric vehicle use is the direction of the future for a more sustainable environment.”
 
The ordinance modifies the 2019 California Green Building Standards Code and the 2019 California Energy Code, which allow cities and counties to adopt local energy amendments. Known as “Reach Codes,” these ordinances go beyond state minimum requirements to encourage electrification of buildings. Nearly all incorporated areas of Santa Clara County have adopted such codes.
 
Cost-effectiveness studies have found that all new construction electric buildings (including single family homes) are generally less expensive to build than mixed-fuel buildings, because they do not need natural gas plumbing, metering, and venting.
 
 
ABOUT THE COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA 
The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, California, making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.

 

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Media Contact: Laurel Anderson/Eric Kurhi,  Office of Communications and Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119, [email protected]

Posted: December 7, 2021​

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