City reminder: Reach Codes town hall meeting on Sept. 3

From the City of Piedmont on Tuesday, Sept. 1:

City staff will host a 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. 

“The proposed Reach Codes are local amendments to the California Building Standards Codes intended to result in greater energy efficiency, reduced natural gas use, and the installation of solar energy systems in existing houses undergoing significant alterations or expansions, and in new detached residential units.” said Kevin Jackson, the City’s Director of Planning & Building. “Piedmont will not meet its 2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets unless we make significant reductions in the use of natural gas in our homes. Even if we miraculously eliminated all emissions from all other sources in Piedmont, including vehicles, solid waste, and water transportation and treatment, we would still need to reduce emissions from natural gas appliances in buildings by 4,707 tons of CO2e, a reduction of 33.52%, something we have been unable to achieve through voluntary efforts during the past fifteen years.”

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: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84001381498

6 thoughts on “City reminder: Reach Codes town hall meeting on Sept. 3

  1. Dear Editor: An earnest letter from several Piedmont citizens appeared in the August 26th 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, (https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/ghg-descriptions-sources), 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.
    Sincerely,
    Michael Henn

    • Piedmont must do what it can to reduce GHG emissions. The federal and state governments control the transportation sector. But Piedmont can affect use of natural gas in homes, and should act. While eliminating GHG use in homes is not sufficient to succeed in the global warming front, it is necessary. And the increasing use of home solar generation and home batteries will strengthen the grid, reducing transmission needs and providing resiliency.

  2. Why mandate a good idea? If an idea is good, Piedmonters will do it on their own, even if their own City Government won’t.

    Piedmont’s Public Buildings, many of which are newly remodeled: City Hall – incl. Building Department, Fire Station, Veteran’s Hall, Wildwood Elementary, Beach Elementary, Haven’s Elementary, Piedmont Middle School, even the new $30 Million Steam Building do not appear to follow the potentially ground breaking, maybe the first in the nation, untested and poorly defined principles, outlined in Piedmont’s Reach Codes.

    There do not seem to be any solar panels on any Piedmont Public Buildings, even though they have tens of thousands of square feet of the best open sunlight in the whole city. Why is it that our own city government won’t demonstrate the principles they want to mandate on individual home owners? Why? Is it too expensive? Too difficult on a 20,000 square foot building? Why should Piedmont’s residents be mandated, regulated at the discretion of our own City Government. My thought is Piedmont should study, understand, better define, and execute ideas on Public Buildings. And then based on actual information and defined ideas, consider mandating initiates to individual homeowners. And at that point, why? With good ideas, there is no reason to mandate anything, our residents will do it on their own.

    • Mr. Anderson, you’ve hit upon one of the recent flaws in the city’s administration: the failure to do, itself, what it is preaching/mandating for others to do. In addition to the lack of solar on city buildings, last year the city was pushing the adoption of a generally worthy green infrastructure plan, It would provide for collecting polluted street water and incorporating it into bioswales for cleansing before flowing into storm drains and into the bay. In the same year, the city built a bulb-out at Highland and Craig avenues which failed to incorporate any bio-retention at all. And we’ve seen the city landscaping crews using gas-powered leaf blowers while prohibiting them for others. Optics matter, but that is apparently not noted by some at city hall.

  3. 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

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