San José City Council voted to enhance the natural gas prohibition ordinance. The ordinance is the latest milestone for Climate Smart San José, the City’s Paris-aligned greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction plan adopted by City Council in 2018.
“With this initiative, San José maintains its leadership as the nation’s largest city with a comprehensive all-electric mandate in new development, and continues to provide a global model for climate sustainability,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “It is incumbent on every city and every resident to take aggressive action amid this climate emergency, and I want to thank our many local Climate Smart Champions, environmental advocates, innovative employers, and our partners — at the National Resources Defense Council and the Bloomberg Philanthropies — for their collective efforts to push our thinking and catalyze our actions.”
One of the key strategies of the Climate Smart San José plan is transitioning to a renewable energy future. In San José’s most recent community-wide GHG inventory, building emissions represented about one-third of emissions, second only to transportation-related emissions. San José proposed taking aggressive action to remove natural gas from newly constructed homes and buildings as part of its commitment to the American Cities Climate Challenge. Based on the City’s latest five-year development forecast, the projected greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) offset over the estimated 50-year lifecycle of the buildings affected by today’s ordinance is approximately 608,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
“Transitioning to all-electric buildings not only reduces CO2 emissions, but in most cases all-electric buildings cost less to build when accounting for the service and piping costs associated with natural gas infrastructure,” said Rosalynn Hughey, director of the department of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement. “The natural gas ban thus not only supports our Climate Smart goals but also the construction of affordable housing. Buildings without natural gas piping are also safer during earthquakes. We can look forward to multiple benefits associated with expanding our natural gas ban.”
The ordinance will go into effect August 1, 2021.
As a national leader in building electrification, San José’s new natural gas prohibition ordinance affects all new building construction with exemptions for hospitals, attached accessory dwelling units (ADU’s), and limited extensions for establishments with food preparation equipment, manufacturing facilities, and facilities with a distributed energy resource necessary for resiliency.
“San José City Council is leading in climate change policy by further electrifying buildings in the 10th largest cities in the country,” said Kerrie Romanow, chief sustainability officer for the City and director of the department of Environmental Services. “This is a big step to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and reach our Climate Smart San José goals. We will work closely with stakeholders to transition to a new way of doing business.”
San José’s progress in the past two years has been recognized by sustainability advocates. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked San José 9th among major U.S. cities for climate efforts and the CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, listed the City as a global climate leader with 88 other cities in the world.