San Francisco bans natural gas in new buildings

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted to ban natural gas in new buildings starting in 2021.

The ordinance passed this month requires new construction to utilize only electric power.

San Francisco follows another Bay Area city Berkeley, which was actually the first in California to ban natural gas in new buildings.

Berkeley’s ban goes into effect in Jan. 2021.

This is a major step towards protecting Earth’s environment, supporters of the legislation say.

District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said “Natural gas is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in San Francisco and poses major health and safety risks.”

The legislation cites fire risk as a reason to convert to electric-only power.

“Natural gas infrastructure may rupture, fail, and/or explode due to earthquake-induced structural failure,” the legislation reads.

It adds that electrical infrastructure would be up and running quicker than natural gas would after an incident.

The legislation also says natural gas combustion significantly impacts indoor air pollution.

According to data from 2017, building operations are responsible for 43.7% of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The city will still allow some new mixed-fuel buildings if the building inspector finds that constructing an all-electric building is physically and technically infeasible.

The city will also consider mixed-fuel permits for restaurants that can provide evidence that gas is necessary for its specific establishment’s cooking equipment.

Read the details of the mixed-fuel exception below:

The Building Official shall not issue permits for construction of any new Mixed-Fuel Buildings that submitted an initial application on or after June 1, 2021. Permits for new construction that submit initial applications on or after that date may only be obtained for All-Electric Buildings or Projects.

For purposes of this subsection, the initial application shall be the first site or building permit application associated with the project. EXCEPTIONS: The Building Official may issue a permit for construction of a new Mixed-Fuel

Building in the following circumstances, and provided that the building shall be Electric-Ready as
specified in the Design Guidelines for Electric-Ready Buildings published by the Department
of Building Inspection:

(1) Upon the Building Official’s finding that constructing an All-Electric Building or Project is
physically or technically infeasible and that a modification pursuant to section 104A.2.7 is warranted.

Financial considerations shall not be a sufficient basis to determine physical or technical
infeasibility. Modifications from this section 106A.1.17 shall only be issued under this exception
where the Building Official finds: sufficient evidence was submitted to substantiate the infeasibility of an All-Electric Building or Project design; the installation of natural gas piping systems, fixtures
and/or infrastructure is strictly limited to the system and area of the building for which All-Electric
Building or Project design is infeasible; and that the project’s modified design provides equivalent health, safety and fire-protection to All-Electric Building or Project design;
or

(2) The Building Official may issue a permit for a new Mixed Fuel Building that includes an
area specifically designated for occupancy by a commercial food service establishment (A-2
Occupancy) that is a Mixed-Fuel Building solely because it provides gas piping systems, fixtures and/or infrastructure exclusively for cooking equipment within the designated commercial food service area where the initial application was submitted prior to January 1, 2022.

(i) For initial applications submitted on or after this date, the Building Official
may issue a permit for such a new Mixed-Fuel Building—that is a Mixed-Fuel Building solely
because it provides gas piping systems, fixtures and/or infrastructure exclusively for cooking
equipment within the designated commercial food service area—upon finding that the
applicant has submitted sufficient evidence that such gas systems are necessary for the
specific commercial food service establishment that will operate the food service area.
Applicants may appeal determinations made by the Building Official to the Board of
Examiners, pursuant to section 105A.1

The full ordinance can be read here.

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