Summary of MCL Letter on Building Electrification
(Sent to all Marin jurisdictions, 11/22)
Marin Conservation League supports a robust coordinated effort by Marin County and its towns, cities, and agencies to accelerate building electrification. The County and other jurisdictions have now drafted model reach codes requiring electrification and electric vehicle infrastructure in new construction, and incentivizing electrification when renovating existing buildings. MCL sent a letter to the County urging adoption of the codes, and the County did so on November 15. Similar letters were sent to the eleven Marin cities and towns. As of November 21, four of these have adopted the codes for new construction, and several others are likely to do so by early 2023. The code relating to renovations and other measures to electrify existing buildings remain under consideration.
Why are these codes so important?
1. Electrification Reduces Public Health and Safety Risks. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), is the principal component of natural gas. It also poses numerous health and safety risks. Eliminating natural gas use in buildings reduces a major fire risk and eliminates release of toxic combustion byproducts that can have severe health impacts, especially for children and seniors.
2. Electrification Avoids Stranded Assets and Exposure to Rising Fossil Fuel Prices. If constructed with gas infrastructure, buildings will need to be retrofitted as we phase out natural gas. By avoiding the cost of gas piping, all-electric buildings often have lower capital costs than new buildings with both gas and electricity. They also usually have lower energy costs.
3. Electrification Combats Climate Change. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes clear that we must rapidly reduce GHG emissions. Marin must do likewise to meet its climate goals. Approximately 25% of Marin emissions come from burning natural gas in the buildings where we live and work, mostly for space and water heating. While the operation of gas appliances produces carbon dioxide, the methane in natural gas is a far more potent GHG, and significant leakage occurs during its production, distribution, and use.
In addition to adopting model reach codes immediately, we urge development of a Countywide Building Electrification Plan by January 1, 2024, targeting electrification of existing buildings as rapidly as feasible. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has provided significant federal funding to support electrification of new construction, renovations, and existing buildings over the next ten years. By addressing both cost and equity concerns, these and other incentives support a smooth transition to all-electric buildings and mobility.1 Accelerating electrification is among the most effective actions that local governments can take to assure significant reduction of GHG emissions within the urgent timeframe we have to confront climate change.
1 Currently available rebates from state and local sources can be found at https://www.bayren.org/rebates-financing. IRA tax credits and rebates are at https://www.rewiringamerica.org/app/ira-calculator
Read MCL’s Letter to the Marin County Board of Supervisors