Midpeninsula Post

Los Altos seeks input on environmental building codes

Los Altos City Hall in June 2021. (Arya Nasikkar)

Los Altos’ environmental commission recently released its 2022 reach code recommendations and is seeking input from residents before they present them to the city council in September. 

The reach codes — building codes that go further than state requirements on construction — would require that all new constructions, major remodels and new appliance installations are 100% electric. The proposed recommendations would also ban the extension of natural gas lines, which would make installing a natural gas grill, firepit or pool heater prohibitively difficult.  Propane grills and firepits would still be allowed.

In 2020, the commission was unable to implement a ban on gas cooktops due to resident pushback. The commission has yet to see if they’ll face similar pushback on the recommendation to restrict natural gas grills and firepits. 

“We’ll see what we get from the survey, it will tell us how resistant people are, how much concern there is about not being able to have hardwire gas barbecues as opposed to propane,” Teksler said. 

In Los Altos, roughly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions are generated by residential energy, so reducing those emissions — mostly made up of methane, a byproduct of natural gas — plays a major role in the city’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2035.

“Until we can start to address that natural gas use in homes, we’re not going to be able to meet our climate change goals,” environmental commissioner Laura Teksler said.

The proposed codes would also mandate that new single family homes install the necessary wiring for a 240V electric car charger, also known as a level two charger. 

To provide input on the proposed reach codes, click here to access the commission’s brief survey

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