Oakland council to consider banning fossil fuel gas in newly constructed buildings

 (Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

Following the lead of about three dozen cities throughout California, the Oakland City Council on Tuesday will consider reducing greenhouse gas emissions by banning the use of fossil fuel gas in all newly constructed buildings.

Instead, buildings can be electrified, which is a growing trend in the state.

Natural gas, which is primarily methane, burns within homes and buildings cannot be made clean. It also creates greenhouse gas emissions when it is burned, which can leak and have severe climate impacts.

“Oakland cannot meet its climate goals without shifting quickly away from natural gas use and my legislation will put Oakland at the forefront of efforts statewide,” said Councilmember Dan Kalb, lead author of the legislation. “State energy policies and lower prices of renewables mean that substituting natural gas with electricity is one of the quickest, safest, and least expensive pathways to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. Additionally, reducing the reliance on gas systems will reduce the risk of fires, simplify building systems and maintenance, and improve indoor air quality.”

Berkeley was the first city in California to enact this type of law and San Jose is the largest. San Francisco and Richmond have also banned or significantly reduced the use of natural gas in new building construction. 

If approved, the law would require all residential and commercial building developers to submit building applications that will design and build without any natural gas infrastructure.

The ordinance does not impact existing buildings, additions, or alterations, or attached accessory dwelling units, and waivers may be granted for technology feasibility reasons.