City of Riverside logoIn an effort to reduce carbon emissions and the effects of climate change, the City of Riverside is requiring most new buildings that are three stories or less to be all electric starting Jan. 6, 2023. The requirement will extend to all new buildings, regardless of height, after Jan. 1, 2026.

The 4-3 decision from the City Council on Tuesday (12/6) includes exceptions for commercial kitchens, process loads for manufacturing facilities, and water heating if net metering is unavailable for affordable housing. There is an appeal process for buildings for which all electric may not be feasible.

Council members voting yes included Ronaldo Fierro, who sponsored the measure, Erin Edwards, Clarissa Cervantes and Steve Hemenway. Voting no were Chuck Conder, Gaby Plascencia and Jim Perry.

“By passing this ordinance, we are showing everyone that Riverside is a trailblazer leading the way towards a breathable and sustainable future,” Fierro said. “Our goal from the outset was to craft an emission reduction strategy that makes sense for Riversiders — and a policy that the State can emulate because of its careful and effective considerations.”

The vote culminates about 18 months of work, including multiple community meetings. Additional input came from a Decarbonization Advisory Group (DAG) made up of representatives from the development community, organized labor, environmental justice and community groups, and other industry experts. The vote also aligns with the Envision Riverside 2025 Strategic Plan, which calls for Riverside to reach carbon neutrality by 2040.

Building electrification, sometimes referred to as building decarbonization, involves phasing out natural gas infrastructure powered by fossil fuels for cooking and heating in buildings in favor of electricity, often powered by solar, wind, and other sources of zero-carbon power.

Riverside joins more than 60 other California cities and counties that have implemented all-electric building codes, including Pasadena, Santa Barbara, Glendale, Oakland, Sacramento, San Jose, and South San Francisco. The code will apply to all construction – residential, commercial and industrial – with the noted exceptions.