Sep 25 , 2019

San Jose Becomes First Major US City to Ban Natural Gas in New Construction

The city of San José recently announced that they would become the first major city in the United States to ban the use of natural gas in new construction. The ban applies to any and all new single-family, low-rise and multi-family buildings. Only high-rise building are exempt.

The proposal passed through the San José city council unanimously. The city is putting an ambitious plan in action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its new buildings by 90 percent.

“Through the launch of San José Clean Energy, we have dramatically boosted the share of our electricity supply coming from renewables—now more than 80% and rising. Yet the daunting menace of climate change marches on,” said San José Mayor Liccardo.

The ban will take effect on January 1, 2020. With the 10th highest population of any U.S. city, San José is the highest profile city to ban natural gas outright by a good margin. The city of Berkley, CA, enacted an even more comprehensive ban on natural gas earlier this year that applied to all new construction, including high-rise buildings. According to Reuters, other cities in states including California, Washington, and Massachusetts are considering similar proposals while studying their long-term effects.

“We can leverage our success in decarbonizing our electricity grid—and light the path to sustainability for thousands of other American cities—through electrification of our buildings, which emit one-third of our GHG emissions,” said Liccardo.

Data from the EPA shows that residential and commercial buildings account for nearly 12 percent of all GHG emissions in the U.S. as a whole. In addition to its main goal of reducing those emissions, San Jose also hopes that eliminating natural gas will:

  • Lower costs for renters by providing more cost-efficient appliances in new all-electric buildings
  • Lower costs for new developments
  • Reduce fire risks and lower methane emissions
  • Improve indoor air quality

Time will tell how many other major cities move to ban natural gas from new construction projects and how this will effect construction projects across the country. Environmental concerns are beginning to impact the construction industry on a more frequent basis, as this month has also seen industry leaders respond to the EPA’s repeal of the 2015 Clean Water Act.

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