A hub of Northern California’s Silicon Valley, San Jose, has become the largest city in the country to ban the use of natural gas in most new buildings.
The city council last month unanimously passed a proposal put forward by Mayor Sam Liccardo and four council members requiring new buildings to be entirely electric and gas free. The council finalized the ordinance on Tuesday. Pending approval by the California Energy Commission, the ordinance is set to take effect Jan. 1.
While California’s climate protection targets are among the most aggressive in the nation, San Jose has joined eight other cities in the state either banning the use of gas in new buildings or that have adopted electrification building codes that go beyond statewide requirements. More than 50 cities and counties across the state are also considering electrification policies that would discourage the use of fossil fuels, according to the Sierra Club.
In July, Berkeley, CA, also in Northern California about 45 miles from San Jose, became the first city in the country to pass an ordinance prohibiting gas infrastructure in all new construction. San Jose’s ordinance, however, stops short of an outright ban as it does not apply to high-rise buildings, but the council may explore that possibility in the coming months.
For now, the new code would require “detached accessory dwelling units, single-family, low-rise and multi-family buildings” in the city to be electric. The city is also recommending that space at new developments be reserved for electric vehicles and service equipment like charging stations.
Late last year, only months after the city unveiled plans to address climate change, Bloomberg Philanthropies accepted San Jose into a two-year program aimed at making them happen. San Jose, the nation's 10th largest city, received a grant valued at roughly $2.5 million as part of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge, which is helping 19 other cities achieve their environmental goals. The funds helped the city develop the electrification code.