On May 3rd, 2021, the Petaluma City Council crossed a milestone in our City’s journey to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2030 with the adoption of an “All-Electric Construction in New Constructed Buildings” ordinance.
What does this mean? We’re glad you asked! Simply put, the new ordinance requires all new buildings (homes and businesses) to use clean electricity-based systems in place of pollution-causing natural gas options.
We know this is a somewhat complex topic, so we’ve broken it down for you below. Please take a moment to review the details and learn how you can take advantage of the benefits of electricity in your own home or building.
Thank you for your continued support as our community works together to preserve our environment for generations to come!
What is an All-Electric Code?
The All-Electric Code is a modification to the Petaluma Municipal code for buildings that removes natural gas as a possible energy source for new construction in Petaluma. This is also referred to as “decarbonization” - the removal of greenhouse gas emissions from a building’s energy use.
Put more simply, the All-Electric Code makes it mandatory for all new construction in Petaluma to utilize electricity as a source of energy for things like appliances and heating systems in place of natural gas. To date, at least 15 California cities have adopted “all electric, whole building” requirements.
Why Have an All-Electric Code?
Our City is committed to doing all we can to fight climate change and preserve our environment for generations to come. In fact, we’ve committed to becoming a carbon neutral city by the year 2030! CLICK HERE to learn about our Climate Ready 2030 initiative.
One major way we can prevent our carbon footprint from increasing is by ensuring new buildings use electricity rather than natural gas. Home appliances and building systems that rely on natural gas are the source of over a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions - and a great place to make impactful change quickly.
By switching to an All-Electric Code, we are ensuring all new construction will ditch natural gas and utilize a much cleaner option: electricity. In early 2021, the City’s Climate Action Commission recommended eliminating emissions from the building sector as a priority action item in addressing the climate emergency (Climate Emergency Framework, p.6.)
Not only does the All-Electric Code reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, it’s better for your health! Electric appliances run cleaner, so you are not breathing in harmful burned fossil fuels when you run them.
What's So Bad About Natural Gas?
The primary component in natural gas is methane, a pollutant whose contribution to climate change is, pound for pound, 25x greater than carbon dioxide*. Methane pollution happens throughout its journey to your home - through leakages that occur when extracting it from the earth and along its distribution journey (think transport and pipelines), to pollution released when it is burned through cooking, clothes drying, water heating, and space heating.
Appliances that use natural gas are big troublemakers when it comes to carbon emissions, and they also pollute the air in your home. There are cleaner, safer alternatives!
What if I Currently Have Gas Appliances in My Home?
The All-Electric Code will only apply to existing buildings when they undergo a substantial remodel involving removal of over 50% of the exterior walls or addition of more than 50% of the gross floor area.
Traditionally, electric appliances were frowned upon due to the cost of electricity it took to run them - but times have changed! The City, in partnership with Sonoma Clean Power, will be offering incentives and programs to help residents with gas appliances make the switch to electric.
We encourage residents to make the switch from gas to electric appliances**. Switching is simple and has so many benefits! Learn how to make changes in your home here: https://www.switchison.org/
*When measured over a 100 year period.
**Switching from natural gas to electric appliances and systems will not be mandatory for existing homes and businesses (unless they are undergoing a substantial remodel as explained above), but is strongly encouraged.