Electric is the only way to go for renovated and new public buildings in San Francisco

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New or renovated government buildings in San Francisco – including libraries, community centers and office space will have to go all electric under a new law approved last week to combat climate change.

The Board of Supervisors approved legislation requiring all new construction and renovations of municipal buildings to be all electric, the latest step toward going all electric in construction across the city to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman plans to introduce legislation in the spring that would ban natural gas in all construction, but those conversations are ongoing and it’s unclear when it would go into effect.

The requirement approved by the board applies to municipal projects that have yet to obtain a building permit as of Jan. 1.

Stefani called the requirement an important first step.

The City has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Greenhouse gas emissions from municipal buildings are largely because of natural gas, but electricty used by city buildings comes from the Hetch Hetchy system, which is emission free.

Cyndy Comerford, climate program manager at the SF Department of the Environment, told a board committee last week that “44 percent of our overall emissions comes from buildings.”

She said that stat includes 94 percent of emissions from municipal buildings and about 84 percent from commercial and residential.

She told the board that the city needs to move away from natural gas which produces methane.

“It traps more heat in a faster amount of time than actually carbon dioxide,” she told the board.

According to a budget analyst report, construction costs for an all-electric building vary depending on the type of all-electric infrastructure installed, ranging from an estimated increase of $1 per square foot to an estimated decrease of $1 per square foot.

Construction costs could potentially be lower when compared to the costs of installing natural gas infrastructure and the report also said that energy savings would vary based on the type of all-electric equipment installed.

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