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 adopted groundbreaking local amendments to the State Building Code that would require electricity as the only fuel source for new buildings (not natural gas). This ordinance only applies to newly constructed buildings from the ground up, and does not include additions or remodels. Specifically, it would require:

  1. New low rise residential buildings (three stories or less) to have electric fuel source for space heating, water heating and clothes dryers. Stoves may still use natural gas if desired. Pre-wiring for electric appliances is required where natural gas appliances are used.
  2. New nonresidential and high-rise residential buildings to be all-electric with some exceptions and produce a minimum amount of on-site solar based on square footage.
    • Exceptions include:
      • Life science buildings may use natural gas for space heating.
      • Public agency owned and operated emergency operations centers (such as fire stations and police stations) may use natural gas.
      • Nonresidential kitchens (such as for-profit restaurants and cafeterias) may appeal to use natural gas stoves.
      • For all exceptions that are granted, natural gas appliance locations must be electrically pre-wired for future electric appliance installation.
    • Solar requirements: 
      • Less than 10,000 square feet requires a minimum of three kilowatt photovoltaic system
      • Greater than or equal to 10,000 square feet requires a minimum of five kilowatt photovoltaic system
The reach code ordinance was approved by City Council on September 24, 2019.

Why electrification?

Menlo Park has taken great strides in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the building sector due to its large renewable energy portfolio. The community receives energy from Peninsula Clean Energy, which provides a minimum of 50% renewable energy and 90% greenhouse gas (carbon) free electricity at a cost slightly less than PG&E. Electrifying buildings would maximize the community’s renewable power available and reduce GHG emissions by slowly phasing out the use of natural gas. Building indoor air quality and occupant health and safety will improve because all electric appliances emit very little compared to natural gas emissions and is less combustible.

As the state and the community move toward renewable and clean electricity, the local building standard is securing a GHG free future for new buildings. Addressing electrification now for new buildings avoids hardships and costs for building owners in the future.

Electric buildings have been found to be cost effective over the life of the building in upfront construction savings cost and operational costs.  To ensure continual annual savings, property owners and the building industry are encouraged learn more about the increased efficiency of electric appliances and best design practices for electric buildings. For example, heat pumps are 300%-400% more efficient than traditional gas furnaces. Solar can also significantly drive down the cost of electricity for building operations and provide help provide grid resilience. Below are a list of training guides and upcoming events.

Additional resources

  1. Frontier Energy published a study comparing induction stoves with gas stoves
  2. Redwood Energy compiled case studies on all electric multifamily dwellings  (including high rise multi-family residential).
  3. Redwood Energy compiled case studies on all electric commercial buildings.  
  4. View the Berkeley resident testimonial video titled "Why Electricity Is Better Than Natural Gas In Your Home" produced by Rise (
  5. View the "Induction Cooktops - 5 Reasons They Are Better Than Gas" video produced by homebuilder Matt Risinger of Risinger Homes in Austin, TX.
  6. View the "Nourishing Our Net Zero Future" produced by Gould Evans, a nationally recognized design and planning firm focused on meaningful design outcomes.