The California Energy Commission (CEC) will soon finalize its 2022 update to the state’s building code. This code outlines minimum energy-saving requirements for construction projects. A coalition of utilities, environmental organizations, and advocacy groups are urging the CEC to adopt an all-electric mandate. This mandate would prohibit the use of gas for space and water heating in new buildings.
The CEC’s proposal doesn’t include a ban on gas-powered appliances in new construction. But it seeks to incentivize construction companies to go all-electric. Builders who continue to install gas for space and water heating would need to take energy-saving measures elsewhere. This would increase the overall cost of construction.
By contrast, construction firms that install electric-powered heat pumps would see lower costs. The final decision is expected in the coming months. The new regulations would take effect from the beginning of 2023.
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is one of the leading groups in the coalition in support of the all-electric mandate. The NRDC argues that failing to act now would prevent California from meeting its target of reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030. The NRDC points out that gas burnt in California’s buildings accounts for seven times more emissions than natural gas power plants.
The California Air Resources Board estimates that natural gas use in buildings creates 10 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.