Aug 29 2020

REACH CODES: City to Answer Questions on Impacts to Piedmont Residents Sept. 3rd

Thursday, Sept 3rd 6 pm Citizens May Ask a Question about the Proposed Climate Action Building Code Modifications, Reach Codes.

Sign in to the ZOOM platform (see instruction below) to follow the meeting.

To Ask a Question, click the “Raise Your Hand” button.

City Announcement:

City of Piedmont staff will host a virtual Town Hall on September 3rd at 6:00 p.m. to provide an opportunity for Piedmont residents to learn more about the proposed Reach Codes. 

During and since the Council’s consideration of the Reach Codes on July 20th several questions have been raised. The Town Hall will provide an opportunity for those questions to be answered. Following a short presentation addressing some of the issues, a panel will provide responses to questions submitted by attendees. 

Residents can view the screening by tuning to KCOM TV, Comcast channel 27 or AT&T channel 99. Residents can watch on the Zoom platform by clicking the following link:

Please visit the City website to find more information on the City’s Climate Action program and the proposed Reach Codes. On the Reach Codes webpage you will find links to several documents, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Reach Codes that was updated on August 20th.


Kevin Jackson, AICP, Planning & Building Director

City of Piedmont, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611

Tel: (510) 420-3039, Fax: (510) 658-3167

5 Responses to “REACH CODES: City to Answer Questions on Impacts to Piedmont Residents Sept. 3rd”

  1. Requiring all-electric cooking facilities is a BIG Mistake; it is a deal-breaker.

    1) It doesn’t significantly reduce CO2 emissions because most of the electricity that is generated comes from burning carbon (mostly natural gas), AND the transmission loss from the power plant to the kitchen is approximately 35%.

    2) Cooking on an electric stovetop uses more energy than cooking the same thing on a gas stovetop. It takes excess energy to warm up the cooking surface, and that is wasted energy which is dissipated after cooking, as the stovetop cools down. Gas is instantly on, and the heat instantly gone when the burner is turned off.

    3) Gas cooking is more precise than electric. You can vary the amount of gas more directly and immediately than the electric digital settings, and there are some things you just can not do with electric stovetops, like seare peppers or eggplant.

    The REACH requirement for electric ovens is probably OK (actually may create a more even heat than gas ovens), BUT electric stovetop is an inferior cooking method than gas stovetop, it uses more energy (e.g. wastes energy), and it pollutes more (when considering the total CO2 footprint from power plant and transmission lines).

    Please take electric stovetop requirements OUT of the proposed REACH regulations.

  2. Sep 2, 2020

    Piedmont City Council
    Kevin Jackson, City Planner

    Question for Sep. 3, Reach Codes Town Hall.

    I. Proponents state: “The reach codes also will help homeowners save money in many cases. (Piedmont Connect Aug 31). Electricity from PGE is much more expensive then natural gas and there will be significant additional construction cost for residents if the Reach codes are enacted; won’t the Reach codes cost many residents more money?

    II. Many residents in older homes have already implemented the relatively less expensive Reach Code options: attic insulation, double-glazed windows, water heater blanket and insulating exposed pipes. If the only option left is heat pump installation, that exercise becomes very expensive if not an impossible for homes that have no central heating system. What about the older home that uses wall furnaces and has no central duct system in place, how can a heat pump be installed and what is that cost?

    III. Electric cooking does not provide the immediate control that gas cooking provides; some have suggested that convection cooking is comparable to gas. Convection cooking requires a dedicated 240v/50 amp circuit. The Piedmont building code does not allow external electrical conduit. Now the older home has to have walls and possibly floors opened up to accommodate the new 240v circuit which will make this a costly addition. What provisions are in the proposed Reach codes for homes that require opening and closing walls for convection cooking installation?

    IV. A power outage without solar panels but with a heat pump installed means for the 100% electric home no cooking, no hot water, no heating or cooling, no car charging, no internet and no lights. Why has there been no discussion by Staff and proponents of the consequences of electric outages to the all-electric home? How are families to cope?

    V. There is much reputable industry and government material freely available concerning making one’s home more energy efficient. Isn’t the expense of the energy audit or score simply wasted money as the information is readily available for free?

    VI. In state generation of electric energy is fueled 47% by natural gas. California has a population of 39.5 Million and Piedmont’s population represents .000025% of that. Will adopting Reach codes in Piedmont really accomplish the universally accepted goal of protecting the environment?

    Rick Schiller

  3. Ok, Bruce, normally I enjoy your political missives but this time I think you have it wrong on some fronts:
    1) Yes, currently the grid is only about 35% green, but the goal is to get to 100% by 2045. The T&D losses are only about 5%…you would have to take a deep dive to figure out why, but it has to do with modern high voltage distribution (
    Gas leakage losses are ~4% but have a GWP of 28. 25% of Global GHG emissions are due to methane.
    2-3) Which type of electric stove top are you looking at? Induction stoves are so much more efficient in many ways:
    Gas combustion is ~40% efficient, to all those losses are occurring whenever the burner is on; other minor losses of heat up and cool down pale in comparison of those gas losses; induction stoves are fast acting and more or equal in adjustability than gas, and my understanding can do everything as well as gas, even big name chefs acknowledge that.
    One major issue; unless you have a very high end ventilation system gas cooking is a major polluter. Check out the energy guide at p.7, p9, p43
    Finally, unless you are considering an ADU, the only folks that would face an all electric case would be those few that are building a new home;e.g. with Title 24 mandates. Nobody else is required to install an electric stove; the reach codes have specific options for remodels none of which require stove replacement.
    Also, one alternate that virtually eliminates your concerns about systems losses etc. is to use rooftop solar, can be expensive (with batteries included) but leasing virtually eliminates the first costs.
    My two cents!

  4. Rick – to your points:
    1. Putting insulation in your attic won’t make you use more electricity. It will reduce your use of natural gas and save you money. That gas savings should in most cases pay for the cost.
    2.. If you implemented all those energy upgrades I suspect some are out of date and can you can comply by simply upgrading to the levels called for in the code. If you are all up to code and can do no more, I think staff will use discretion and approve your permit without Reach, assuming it’s over $25,000. Staff has said as much publicly.
    3. No Reach code requires existing homes to replace their gas stoves. Only new construction requires electric stoves and that can easily accommodate the new circuit. Remodels that install heat pump appliances may confront the problem you suggest.
    4. Natural gas begets global warming begets blackouts. Switching to renewables by the end of the century is the only way to go. All electric will happen to less than 1% of piedmont homes under Reach code. Maybe battery technology will be available within 10 years.
    5. The score primes the new owners for the eventual improvements they will implement. There were 206 projects eligible for Reach improvements in 2019. At that rate, by 2050, all Piedmont homes will undertake improvements, making a significant contribution to the city’s GHG reduction.
    6. Of course Piedmont Reach codes will contribute to goal. All California cities are adopting Reach codes and the aggregated effect will be significant. Given the age of Piedmont homes compared to other communities, on a per capita basis our codes may do more.

  5. An earnest letter from several Piedmont citizens appeared in the August 26th Piedmont Post urging the passage of the proposed Reach Codes. The theme of the letter is that Climate Change is both real and imminent, and that we have to do something to fight it. They are absolutely right that Climate Change is real, and that significant efforts are needed to fight it. However, I would like to point out why the proposed building code changes, oddly named the Reach Code, are not an effective way to fight for the planet. I will not focus on the fact that a declining percentage of GHGs come from the US and other industrialized countries. But that the explosive GHG growth and the majority of GHGs come from UDCs and China.

    According to the California Air Resources Board research, (, 47% of California’s CO2 emissions come from the transportation sector, 23% from Industrial, 18% from the generation of electricity, 7% from residences, 4% from commercial uses, and 1% from ag and miscellaneous. Piedmont’s proposed Reach Codes attempts to reduce the already minor 7% coming from residences, but in a manner that would increase the amount coming from electrical generation. This could be modestly beneficial if the source of the new electrification was entirely from green sources. But it isn’t. Only 44% of California’s electrical production comes from solar, wind, hydro and geothermal combined. Natural Gas (NG) is the largest source of our electricity.

    So the electrification part of the Reach Code, at best, would be a wash relative to not enacting it. Clearly, a minor effort by little cities like Piedmont, is not the appropriate level of government to be fighting global climate change. However, the Reach Code’s requirements for improved insulation and for solar are defensible.

    Looking at the big-picture, strategies to fight climate change should be aimed at the big-ticket generators of GHGs, particularly the driving of fossil-fuel powered cars and trucks (admittedly I am an offender). Unfortunately, the majority of the state’s transportation budget goes to the most GHG emitting sector, i.e. Highways. Adjusted for inflation, a gallon of gas is cheaper today than it was in 1981, 39 years ago.

    Climate advocates should be working to change these GHG expanding policies, as well as imposing a carbon tax high enough to affect the public’s decision-making. These sorts of changes would make a meaningful change in GHG emissions. The recent electrical blackouts demonstrate that electrification, which the Reach Code is pushing for, would be disastrous if the electrification became widespread. California simply ran out of electrical generating capacity during a fairly normal summer hot spell.
    Michael Henn

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