REACH codes

The 2019 California Building Standards Code and the California Code of Regulation will take in effect on January 1, 2020. The City of Menlo Park is exploring adopting local amendments to the State Building Code that would require:
  1. New low rise residential buildings (three stories or less) to be electrically heated (space area and water) or all-electric; and
  2. New nonresidential and high-rise residential buildings to be all-electric and produce a minimum amount of solar energy
This would not apply to additions, remodels, and/or some tenant improvements. Cost effectiveness studies have been completed and the proposed reach code for Menlo Park was shown to be cost effective. 

The City Council provided initial approval of the proposed Reach Codes on July 16, 2019, and staff is moving forward with drafting code amendment language to be adopted at a public meeting tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m., Tuesday, August 27, 2019, in the City Council Chambers at 701 Laurel St. 

Provide feedback

Public feedback is welcomed and can be provided in writing and/or in person at the meeting. Please submit any questions, concerns or feedback to Sustainability Division staff.

Why electrification?

The City has taken great strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector by enrolling all residents and businesses in Peninsula Clean Energy, which provides a minimum of 50% renewable energy to each building. Electrifying buildings would maximize the community’s renewable power available and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) by starting to phase out natural gas. The indoor air quality and the health safety will improve because all electric appliances emits very little GHG.

Why are there solar panel requirements for non-residential and high rise residential?

The new state code requires a minimum amount of solar for low rise residential. However, there is an opportunity to start to provide greater energy grid resilience and lower utility costs for non-residential and high rise residential buildings.  

Project applicability 

  • Applies to new single family buildings and new multifamily buildings with three stories or less
  • Require new buildings to be electrically heated (space and water heating only), which excludes cooking appliances, fireplaces, or other uses. 
  • Does not apply to additions or remodels. 

Nonresidential and high rise residential: 
  • Applies to retail, office space, hotels/motels, multifamily buildings with four stories or more
  • Require new nonresidential buildings to be all-electric and have onsite solar panels. See the table below for more details
  • Does not apply to additions, remodels, or some tenant improvements

Solar panel requirements for new nonresidential/high rise residential buildings

Building size (sq.ft.) Electrical panel size
Less than 10,000 sq. ft. Minimum of 3-kilowatt PV systems
Greater than or equal to 10,000 sq. ft. Minimum of 5-kilowatt PV systems
Exception: As an alternative to a solar PV system, the building type may provide a solar hot water system (solar thermal) with a minimum collector area of 40 square feet.

Community engagement and process timeline

Date  Event Description
February 27, 2019  Environmental Quality Commission meeting  Discussed Reach Code options
May 15, 2019 Environmental Quality Commission meeting Discussed Reach Code options
June 19, 2019 Environmental Quality Commission meeting Unanimously recommended the preferred option to require new buildings to be electrically heated and a minimum amount of solar to be installed for nonresidential/high rise buildings
July 16, 2019                                                                                                                                                                  City Council meeting City Council unanimously provided direction to draft building code amendments that require all new buildings to be electrically heated for low rise residential and all electric for nonresidential and high rise residential and require a minimum amount of solar for nonresidential/high rise residential.
August 27, 2019 (tentative) City Council meeting First reading of the draft ordinance based on feedback from the community and City Council direction
September 10, 2019 (tentative) City Council meeting Second reading and adoption of the draft ordinance
October 1, 2019 California Energy Commission  Submit application to the California Energy Commission
December 1, 2019 California Building Standards Commission File with the California Building Standards Commission
January 1, 2020 Effective date Adopted ordinance becomes effective