Electric

Aiming toward carbon neutral, new buildings to run on 100 percent electricity

Sacramento, CA- The Sacramento City Council recently approved the “New Building Electrification Ordinance,” which requires new buildings to run entirely on electricity starting in 2023.

The ordinance, which includes a phased in approach, does not require the retrofitting of old buildings. New buildings up to three stories are subject to the ordinance beginning in 2023. The ordinance does not apply to buildings above three stories until 2026.

Part of Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s initiatives on climate change, the new ordinance also reflects recommendations made by Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change. With its adoption, Sacramento joins 45 other cities that have passed electrification ordinances, including San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland. Sacramento is the first major inland city to approve an all-electric ordinance.

“We have stated as a city that we aim to get to carbon neutral by 2045. Climate change is not some esoteric issue.”

Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento Mayor

“This is a proud night,” Steinberg said on Tuesday. “We have stated as a city that we aim to get to carbon neutral by 2045. Climate change is not some esoteric issue. There are specific public health consequences now in our Sacramento community. If we are not aggressive about reducing the use of fossil fuels, we are leaving generations of children to live with the same impacts.”

Gas heating and cooking are known as significant sources of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Gas appliances also emit fumes that increase the risk for respiratory disease. The new ordinance seeks to address these issues, officials said.

Electric utility wires

Process

Over the past year, City staff held more than 50 meetings with local stakeholders and community members and teamed with agencies including SMUD and PG&E to offer informational webinars about the proposed ordinance. With its outreach, staff vetted technological issues and received critical input. Recordings of the City’s eight-part facilitated webinar series and a summary of outreach to date are available here.

“The ordinance approved by City Council reflects the issues we’ve heard from stakeholders and takes a balanced approach while asserting the City’s commitment to decarbonization,” said Jennifer Venema, the City’s interim climate action lead.  “Now, we will work collaboratively with local stakeholders to prepare for clear and predictable implementation.”

Here are the next steps for the ordinance:

  • This summer, City staff will convene a panel of various stakeholders, technical experts and community members to develop infeasibility guidelines to accommodate portions of new projects in which all-electric is not possible. Development of these guidelines will occur over the next year. City staff will recommend the guidelines to City Council in Fall 2022 for adoption, prior to the ordinance going into effect.
  • As part of Tuesday’s vote, the City Council directed staff to prepare a long-term strategy for the electrification of existing buildings with a focus on frontline communities and equitable outcomes. Staff will report back to City Council in 60 days on the process to achieve these goals.
  • The City will continue to conduct community and stakeholder outreach regarding the ordinance, both for its implementation as well as for next steps in planning decarbonizing existing buildings.

Please visit the electrification ordinance webpage for more information. Learn more about all-electric buildings already in Sacramento and available SMUD incentives here.