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Los Angeles moves a step closer to banning gas use in new buildings

October 07, 2022

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

California's most populous city took another step towards joining the dozens of Golden State municipalities that have restricted natural gas use in new buildings over the past three years.

The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, or LADBS, recommended that the city draft an ordinance requiring all-electric construction in most new buildings. The department made the recommendation in response to the Los Angeles City Council's directive to develop an implementation plan that would ensure that all new residential and commercial buildings achieve zero-carbon emissions.

LADBS concluded that electrification is a cost-effective way to achieve building decarbonization in Los Angeles and support the city's greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. Combusting gas in buildings accounts for 25% of the city's overall emissions and contributes to lower indoor air quality, according to the department.

The recommendation is another sign that Southern California cities are gravitating towards gas bans in new buildings, which have largely been concentrated in Northern California's San Francisco Bay Area.

LADBS advised requiring electric space and water heating, cooking, clothes drying and other end uses in most residential and commercial buildings beginning April 1, 2023. The department recommended extending the compliance deadline to June 1, 2023, for affordable housing projects.

The mandate would not apply to manufacturing and industrial facilities or hospitals and laboratories that require gas for specialized processes. Cooking appliances in commercial kitchens and emergency backup for life-safety systems would also be exempt. LADBS further recommended allowing gas equipment in guest homes built by homeowners currently served by the gas grid.

All-electric construction would be cost neutral on average compared to a mixed-fuel approach under both fixed and fluctuating time of use rates in a prototypical eight-story multifamily building in L.A., according to a study conducted by building and infrastructure consultancy Buro Happold for LADBS. Mixed-fuel buildings, which include fossil fuel hookups, would have "slightly lower" annual utility costs than all-electric buildings, the report found.

[Tom DiChristopher]

More ($): Los Angeles proposes natural gas ban in most new construction

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