All-Electric New Construction Ordinance

All-Electric New Construction Ordinance

Natural gas infrastructure, indoor and outdoor combustion of natural gas, and climate change pose risks to human health and safety, community resilience, and equity. To reduce these risks, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in November 2020 adopted the All-Electric New Construction Ordinance. This page provides resources to help permit applicants prepare for, and successfully navigate the new requirement.

The ordinance applies to all new buildings, both residential and non-residential, that apply for initial building permits on or after June 1, 2021. In such buildings, all indoor and outdoor space-conditioning, water heating, cooking, and clothes drying systems must be all-electric. The ordinance prohibits installation of infrastructure, piping systems, or piping for distribution of natural gas or propane to such uses. The ordinance allows limited installation of gas piping systems for commercial food preparation, and in isolated cases if building all-electric is determined to be physically or technically infeasible after all other options are exhausted.

The ordinance does not impact additions or alterations to existing buildings with natural gas piping systems. The ordinance prohibits retrofitting all-electric buildings with gas piping systems.

Though the ordinance is a change, there are all-electric buildings of all sizes and uses in San Francisco today. These buildings have complied with California’s Title 24 Energy Standards – combining energy efficient design with all-electric equipment.

Requirements

Training

Training on all-electric design and construction is available free of charge from many sources in the Bay Area.  Dept of Environment maintains a consolidated list of live and recorded options:

Intended audience and level of detail vary, from courses focused on Energy Code compliance, to specific applications – such as heat pumps or commercial kitchen equipment, to policy. Some are intended for architects and engineers working with large buildings and complex systems, while others are geared toward homeowners and residential alterations.

Open Call for All-Electric Feasibility Reviewers

Limited installation of natural gas piping systems, infrastructure, and appliances can be permitted in cases where qualified professionals experienced with all-electric building design and construction determine it is physically or technically infeasible to comply. DBI is conducting an Open Call to develop a list of professionals who are available to (a) assist projects with resolving difficulties by identifying feasible options to meet their project objectives via all-electric technologies, and (b) after exhausting all other options, document the basis for determining that it is physically or technically infeasible to comply.

In all instances, the first responsibility of an All-Electric Feasibility Reviewer is to help resolve any obstacles and enable compliance.

To learn more – and to be listed as a Feasibility Reviewer:

Why is New Construction required to be All-Electric?

The All-Electric New Construction Ordinance was informed by research and findings of a Zero Emission Buildings Taskforce. Natural gas poses risks to the health and safety of San Franciscans, as well as to the climate. Based on local all-electric projects and significant research, all-electric design was demonstrated to be a feasible and cost-effective means of reducing or eliminating risks posed by natural gas:

  • Health: Exposure to the pollutants produced by natural gas appliances is detrimental to human health. All-electric construction eliminates both indoor and outdoor air pollution from burning natural gas, which has been linked to asthma in children, respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, and premature death.
  • Safety: Reducing the reliance on natural gas improves resilience by reducing risk of fire and explosion.
  • Resilience: Natural gas line ruptures contributed to half of the fires in San Francisco after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The gas and electric utility serving San Francisco has estimated that after a 7.9 earthquake it would take six months to restore gas service citywide, while electricity could be restored in less than a week.
  • Equity: Low-income communities and communities of color that spend a disproportionate amount of their income on energy, and who are more likely to suffer health impacts due to poor indoor air quality.
  • Climate Change:  San Francisco has a target of reducing carbon emissions 68% by 2030, and zero net emissions by 2050. In 2018, buildings accounted for 44% of the city’s carbon footprint, and 84% of local emissions from buildings arise from the use of natural gas. CleanPowerSF and PG&E offer 100% renewable electricity (generated from sources with no carbon emissions) on a subscription basis to every electricity meter in San Francisco – residential and commercial.