Home Energy Management New San José Ordinance Pushes All-Electric Commercial Buildings

New San José Ordinance Pushes All-Electric Commercial Buildings


According to an article published by Maria Stamas and Pierre Delforge of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the City Council of San José, Calif., yesterday voted to adopt requirements for builders that will provide San José residents with clean, affordable energy in buildings and make good on the city’s promise to lead on sustainability. The new ordinance will make San José the largest U.S. city to require construction of electric buildings. Following adoption of the ordinance and a forthcoming ordinance directed by City Council for an October vote, greenhouse gas emissions of San José’s new buildings will be cut by 90 percent. For high-rise and commercial buildings, San José’s new code encourages electric construction, while still leaving flexibility to build with gas. That said, buildings heated by gas will need to meet higher energy efficiency requirements. They will also need to provide the necessary electric infrastructure to easily switch to electric appliances later, to protect consumers from higher gas bills and retrofit costs in future years.

The code also adopts significant electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure requirements, enabling EV owners to charge their cars when parking at home, at the workplace, or around town. San José already has the biggest EV market share in the country. With additional places to charge up, and more visibility for EV charging infrastructure, even more San José residents will have the opportunity to purchase EVs and easily fuel them.

The new EV charging requirements specify that, all new multi-family buildings must include 70 percent of electric vehicle-capable spaces, at least 20 percent of electric vehicle-ready spaces, and at least 10 percent of full electric vehicle service equipment spaces.

Lastly, the code promotes solar photovoltaic (PV) technology in homes and other buildings by requiring all buildings to be solar-ready, meaning they have the capacity to install solar PV technology in the future.

San Jose’s ordinance is a reach code, meaning it’s a local building energy code that “reaches” beyond the state minimum requirements for energy use in building design and construction. Cities and counties across California are filing their reach codes with the California Energy Commission for approval this fall, to go into effect when the state updates its own energy code in January 2020.