Proposed Green Building Reach Codes

The City of San Mateo is committed to being a climate leader and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our community. The development and adoption of amendments to the green building code, also known as “reach codes” can help reduce emissions by requiring all-electric construction and enhancing electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The City's current green building reach codes went into effect on January 1, 2020 and will expire on December 31, 2022. City staff are evaluating reach codes for the 2022 building code cycle that would be adopted this fall and be effective January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2025.

Why is building electrification and electric vehicle readiness important?

Building electrification refers to the transition from gas equipment to electric equipment for space and water heating, clothes drying, cooking and more. Phasing out the use of fossil gas (also known as natural gas) in buildings is extremely important because fossil gas is a fossil fuel that is primarily composed of methane. Fossil gas contributes emissions with a very high global warming potential. There are also health and safety concerns associated with the use of fossil gas in homes. In contrast, the City's electricity provider, Peninsula Clean Energy, supplies 100% greenhouse gas free electricity to the community. 

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure is key to encourage electric vehicle adoption. Transportation accounts for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions in San Mateo. The availability of home charging is specifically important because the lack of at-home charging is considered the primary barrier to EV adoption.

Proposed Green Building Reach Codes

Proposed Reach Codes for Home Renovations

Proposed reach codes are implemented when a permit is issued by the City of San Mateo for home renovations that include the following elements:

  1. Electric-readiness (panel capacity): Requires panel replacement and panel upgrade projects to include panel capacity/breaker space for future electrification
  2. Electric-readiness (outlets installed): Requires all single family residential kitchen and laundry renovations to include installation of an outlet to allow for the use of electric appliances in the future
  3. Heat pump air conditioning: Requires single family residential and duplexes to install heat pump air conditioning when new air conditioning is installed or replaced, in conjunction with furnace replacement
  4. Outdoor equipment:
    1. Requires the installation of new pools to use electric or solar pool heating at residences
    2. Prohibits the extension of fuel gas infrastructure into the backyard for uses such as fire pits, grills, and pools
  5. Heat pump water heater: Requires heat pump water heater during single family residential major renovation projects that include water heater replacement 

Proposed Reach Codes for New Construction

All-electric new construction:

Currently, the City of San Mateo’s building electrification reach code requires the new construction of all residential buildings and office buildings be all-electric. Staff recommends a reach code that requires all new construction to be all-electric. Commercial kitchens and hotel/motel laundry services would be exempt from this requirement. Exceptions would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for biotech laboratories.

Enhanced electric vehicle requirements for new construction:

Staff recommends enhancing electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure requirements for new construction projects above the State requirements. See table for proposed EV reach code requirements for new construction. 

Community Feedback

The City of San Mateo is engaging the community for feedback on the proposed reach codes. The City will host a virtual community meeting to present the proposed reach codes.

Community Meeting on Proposed Green Building Reach Codes in San Mateo

Tuesday, August 30, 2022 at 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Attend the virtual webinar to learn about the proposed green building reach codes and provide your feedback and input on the reach code options. This workshop will focus on proposed reach code options for home renovations.

Join the webinar

You can also provide feedback on the proposed reach codes by email to Andrea Chow (achow@cityofsanmateo.org).


Timeline

Staff presented to the Sustainability and Infrastructure Commission and received feedback and direction on the proposed reach code options for new construction and home renovations on April 13, 2022 and July 13, 2022. Staff plan to present reach code options, Sustainability and Infrastructure Commission feedback, and community feedback to City Council on September 19. Staff will incorporate City Council feedback before returning to City Council for ordinance adoption by November. Proposed reach codes would go into effect with the 2022 Building Code on January 1, 2023 or at a later date depending on City Council direction.

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