On Tuesday, October 27th, the Ojai City Council voted for an All-Electric Reach Code, an innovative new building code that will prohibit natural gas in new buildings. Ojai is the first city in the Southern California Edison area to embrace an all-electric building code, and the 39th in the state of California – with San Francisco passing a similar initiative on the same day.  

Mayor Johnny Johnston spearheaded this groundbreaking initiative, and it passed in the council chambers with a vote of 4-1. There were some loopholes inserted that CFROG opposed – including exclusions for pools and restaurants – but overall, the ordinance is going to drastically reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of new construction in Ojai. Ojai residents overwhelmingly supported the new building code, which was first proposed by Ojai’s citizen-led Climate Emergency Mobilization Committee.

Given that Ojai already gets 100% renewable electricity from the Clean Power Alliance, the transition to all-electric buildings represents a giant step towards a fossil fuel free future for the city. And because natural gas is a source of noxious pollutants like methane, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde – living and working in new all-electric buildings will improve the health of Ojai’s residents by improving indoor air quality.

Indoor air pollution is no joke. Recently, UCLA released a study commissioned by the Sierra Club that showed emissions from stoves and ovens are a major source. When both are run for over an hour, the levels of NO2 inside the home exceeds California and national air quality standards about 90% of the time. That kind of exposure poses a significant public health risk – including higher rates of asthma,and worsening of respiratory diseases.

The great part of this building code change is that it’s a money-saver for contractors and homeowners alike. A California study of utility codes found that construction costs on all-electric buildings averaged $5000 less for a single home with a new gas line, and $2000 less per unit for multi-family dwellings.

All-Electric Reach codes are a win-win-win. They pollute less, keep us healthier, AND they cost less to both build and maintain. We here at CFROG hope that Ojai’s vote is a harbinger of things to come for an All-Electric future for Ventura County!

Liz Beall

About

Executive Director, Climate First: Replacing Oil & Gas (@cfrog_vc). Screenwriter, rabble-rouser, recovering academic. She/Her.