FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 3, 2019
CONTACT: Quinn Brady
San Luis Obispo votes in favor of bold new building code to cut gas pollution in new construction
City Council approves measure to incentivize all-electric new construction in 4-1 vote, following enthusiastic community support for climate, health and cost benefits
San Luis Obispo, Calif.—The San Luis Obispo City Council has approved an updated building code that will slash climate pollution from new construction in the city and deliver significant health benefits to residents. The reach code brings the city closer to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2035 – the most ambitious local climate action target in the nation.
“The reach code adopted tonight is one of the strongest in the state and propels San Luis Obispo ahead of some 50 cities in California as a leader in the climate movement,” said Eric Veium, chair of the SLO Climate Coalition which supported the measure. “There are tremendous benefits of moving all zero-pollution buildings and tonight, the council made the clear-sighted and prudent decision to prepare our city for a carbon-free future.”
Buildings account for 25 percent of California’s total carbon emissions, and are second only to transportation as the leading source of climate pollution in the state. Using modern, highly-efficient electric appliances powered by clean energy not only cuts this pollution, it helps ensure cleaner air indoors. Gas appliances have been linked to a 42 percent increased risk of childhood asthma.
The new building reach code adopted tonight will require new homes and buildings to be electric-retrofit-ready. Though developers will still have the flexibility to build mixed-fuel buildings (electric and gas) – the measure will make it easier for homeowners and building owners to switch to all-electric appliances in the future. SLO will begin receiving carbon-free electricity from January 2020, thanks to its partnership with Monterey Bay Community Power.
The period prior to the vote saw a wave of public comment. Council members said this issue may even set the record for the most community input received on a single measure, and noted that the majority of letters received prior to the vote were in support of the measure.
“Buildings that use renewable electricity to power appliances instead of gas are cost-effective and can even be less expensive both to build and operate — while being healthier for people, our planet, and a business’ long-term profits and economic viability,” noted Mike Horgan, a local builder and construction consultant. “I’ve strongly supported this measure because our industry contributes almost half of the world’s global greenhouse gas emissions, and we all have a responsibility to future generations to remedy this. To do so via a clean, renewable energy source while simultaneously building resilient, efficient, and healthy homes is fantastic for homeowners.”
Building codes set minimum design and construction standards for homes, buildings, and other structures to ensure consistency across many functions, including safety and energy use. In California, Title 24 of the Code of Regulations sets the building code standards for all jurisdictions statewide, however, local governments can adopt more stringent requirements, which are known as reach codes. The new SLO code builds off of California’s 2019 building code, which ensures that all new homes have access to renewable electricity – in most cases with solar panels.
“This is a time of significant change in California, America and the world, in both technological advancements and climate disruption. Communities are ready to take action,” said Veium. “Now, we must continue this momentum and maximize the benefits to our families, our community and our planet.”
ABOUT SLO Climate Coalition
The SLO Climate Coalition formed in 2017 with the mission to bring together community expertise, creativity, and resources to champion high impact regional climate solutions that inspire other communities to do the same. The SLO Climate Coalition is committed to creating an economically vibrant, socially just, and climate-resilient Central Coast.