San Diego to ban natural gas in new construction

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California Construction News staff writer

The City of San Diego has unanimously approved a climate action plan that calls for banning natural gas in new construction while electrifying nearly all existing buildings over the next 12 years.

The climate plan calls for drafting a new building ordinance as early as next year. Details on electrifying existing homes, office towers and other structures have yet to be finalized.

san diego council“The window to reverse the dangerous trends of climate change is rapidly closing, and this moment demands aggressive action,” said Gloria at Tuesday’s public hearing. “Implementing this more ambitious plan won’t be easy, but the financial cost and human consequences of inaction are almost unimaginable.”

Dozens of cities across California have restricted installation of gas stoves and heaters in new construction.

Targeting local sources of natural gas represents a sharp departure from the previous plan, which relied more on state and federal programs to curb city emissions.

“There’s one action within this … that outweighs every other strategy, and that is the measure to phase out 90 percent of natural gas from existing buildings,” Jordan More, fiscal and policy analyst at the city’s Office of the Independent Budget Analyst, said at the public meeting.

The consequences of banning natural gas in new construction could eliminate about 65 out of 32,000 residential construction jobs in the region, according to an independent analysis conducted by the Building Electrification Institute.

However, there are about 6,200 jobs associated with the distribution of natural gas, including electricians, plumbers and engineers that could be impacted, the report concludes, adding that retrofitting buildings with electric stoves and heat pumps would create “thousands” of new jobs.

The city is also doubling down on a plan to reduce driving, boost housing density and overhaul streets to encourage half of all commuters to walk, bike and ride public transit by 2035.

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