Letter to the Editor | City must consider zero-carbon goals in new pool design

The Reach Codes were adopted into Piedmont’s Building Code this week without much fanfare unfortunately.  That’s too bad because surveys show our community, while very supportive of efforts to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), knows very little about the City’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), the blueprint for how Piedmont will reduce those emissions by 80% by 2050 (https://piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=15975391) and Reach Codes are an essential part of that plan.   

Reach Codes are authorized by state law and allow local governments to go beyond required state building code (Title 24) in their efforts to reach the 2050 reduction target. Reach Codes are an especially useful tool for Piedmont because we have so little new construction to which the Title 24 energy efficiency standards apply. For example, as of 2021, all new construction in California must have solar panels but Piedmont doesn’t do new construction, only remodels.  So the Reach Codes require second story additions of a certain size to add solar panels. Or if you are adding square footage to your home and incorporating the latest Title 24 insulation, the Reach Codes require you upgrade the whole house with the new insulation. Owners get to choose from a range of energy-efficiency options so compliance can be economically achieved with most projects. Reach Codes essentially allow Piedmont’s housing stock to expand without adding GHG.

The Reach Codes apply to the residential sector but the municipal sector is doing its part as well. Page 63 of the CAP states:

Municipal Measure 1.1: Set a zero‐carbon goal for the city government.  Pass a resolution committing Piedmont’s municipal facilities and activities to be zero‐carbon by 2050 and develop interim milestones.

Zero-carbon is another way of saying no natural gas and the City is taking action to reduce its natural gas usage.  For example, the Corp Yard just got a heat pump and there’s talk of electric police cars.  But by far the biggest user of natural gas in the Piedmont municipal sector is the pool – the city nearly doubled its GHG output when it took control of the current pool and the proposed pool is 3 times bigger. If the City hopes to be zero carbon by 2050 it has to address pool emissions now during the design phase.  So far there has been no public acknowledgement of the CAP GHG reduction targets and the new pool design. Hopefully that will happen when the Pool Advisory Committee starts meeting later this year. 66% of Piedmont supported electrification of utilities in Reach code community surveys (twice). 68% of Piedmont supported the new pool.  What percentage of Piedmont supports an electric pool?

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