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Santa Clara County Supes Require All-Electric Appliances, EV Charging Hookups In Push For Green Construction

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – New construction in unincorporated Santa Clara County must have all-electric heating and appliances, along with hookups for electric vehicle charging, under a new ordinance passed by supervisors Tuesday.

The ordinance, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, bans natural gas hookups in new construction and requires electricity to be used for "water heating, space heating, cooking, clothes drying, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, and decorative appliances." New dwellings are also required to have wiring installed for installation of battery storage.

For high-rise residential and non-residential buildings, along with hotels and motels, the measure also requires the installation of solar power.

As for electric vehicle charging, requirements vary on the size of the building. For single-family homes and townhomes, a minimum of two EV outlets are required. Meanwhile, high-capacity charging systems and dedicated parking spots for charging are required in larger non-residential projects.

According to county officials, the measure goes further than the state's requirements encouraging all-electric construction.

Supervisor Otto Lee said in a statement, "This is clearly in line with our Climate Action Plan and will help us reach our goal to achieve 100% carbon neutrality by 2045."

Along with reducing greenhouse emissions, officials claim that all-electric construction is generally less expensive to build, because they do not need natural gas plumbing, metering and venting.

Jasneet Sharma, director of the county's Office of Sustainability touted the electrification of buildings, and the use of electric vehicles as a cost effective and low-risk way to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"That means improved indoor air quality and safety for our residents, fewer gas-burning vehicles on our roadways, and less pollutants in the atmosphere," Sharma said.

Some exemptions apply, including hospitals and correctional facilities, along with buildings where all-electric appliances are "not feasible." Certain accessory dwelling units (ADUs) which are contained entirely within a single-family home already piped for natural gas are also exempt.

The ordinance goes into effect in February.

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