Reach Code News Brief: May 2021

Energy Commission Approves Three New Reach Codes in May

City seals for Albany, Piedmont, San Carlos

At the May 12, 2021 California Energy Commission business meeting, three new reach code packages were approved: City of Albany, City of Piedmont and the City of San Carlos. Highlights of each city's package includes:

City of Albany

This ordinance requires that all new construction meets or exceeds specified Energy Design Ratings or Compliance Margins based on the project's mixed fuel or all-electric design.

City of Piedmont

This ordinance requires low-rise residential renovation projects with a value over $25,000 include certain energy efficiency measures as well as mandating all-electric for any newly constructed low-rise residential building.

City of San Carlos

This ordinance mandates all-electric for new construction, with some exceptions for specific building types and applications such as cooking and fireplaces.

Visitors can browse our website for detailed information about adopted reach codes throughout the state (map view or the adopted ordinances list).

Upcoming Events

June 2: Residential Heat Pump Water Heaters for Building Departments; BayREN training

June 9:  Building Permits and Clean Technology: Innovations and Challenges; BayREN Regional Forum.

June 9: California Energy Commission monthly Business Meeting

June 16-17: California Building Standards Commission Accessibility Code Advisory Committee meeting.

June 21: Plenary kick-off of 2021 Climate Adaptation Forum.

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New This Month!

Laura Allen, Christina Bertea, and Sherry Bryan

A look at New Drought-Ready Construction Ordinance Resources: A Conversation with Laura Allen, Christina Bertea, and Sherry Lee Bryan

Laura Allen is the co-founder of Greywater Action, where she educates about sustainable water solutions through trainings and online classes. She authored Greywater, Green Landscape, and The Water-Wise Home: How to Capture, Conserve, and Reuse Water in Your Home and Landscape. Laura is a technical advisory committee member for the International Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Officials’ (IAPMO) Water Efficiency Standard (We-STAND), and is also a board member of the California Onsite Water Association (COWA).

Christina Bertea, a union trained plumbing contractor for 25+ years, has been working with Greywater Action for 13 years to promote sustainable water practices including the re-use of household greywater and the harvesting of rainwater.

Sherry Lee Bryan is a Water Efficiency Programs Manager at Ecology Action. She is a certified landscape irrigation auditor (CLIA), and greywater/rainwater system installer with 18 years of experience helping business and public agencies plan and implement innovative water conservation, irrigation efficiency programs and green industry workforce development.

The statewide reach codes program published the Drought-Ready Construction Model Ordinance in 2020. Recently, the program has published a robust guidance document to provide valuable guidance for construction professionals such as architects and contractors who are working to comply with dual drainage plumbing code provisions.

Q: What exactly is dual drainage?

Christina: These systems enable the reuse of greywater, which is untreated wastewater, from bathtubs, showers, bathroom sinks, clothes washers, and laundry tubs. A dual drainage system plumbs greywater to an accessible location, typically outside the building, where it can be easily connected to an outdoor greywater irrigation system in the future. This enables a homeowner to install a future greywater system more affordably.

Q: What are some of the benefits for dual drainage plumbing systems?

Sherry: One of the reasons this model ordinance and compliance guidance document are so useful is that the state is experiencing both a building and remodeling boom and extreme drought conditions. Dual drainage plumbing is typically easiest to install during the new construction or remodel process when the walls are open. At the same time, with many new homes being built across the state and drought conditions becoming more frequent and severe, adding a dual drainage system really offers homeowners a great deal of flexibility in how they manage their water. And by installing dual drainage plumbing during the construction process, they avoid costly plumbing retrofits and make the cost of a future greywater irrigation system more affordable.

Q: Tell us a little about the importance of dual drainage plumbing provisions in reach codes.

Sherry: Dual drainage plumbing requirements are really the next logical step in water efficiency programs. For local jurisdictions who have included water demand reduction goals in their Climate Action Plans, these types of provisions can be extremely useful in helping achieve CAP goals related to water and water+energy. While there are some alternate water reuse measures in CALGreen, this model ordinance offers a path forward for local jurisdictions to promote onsite residential water reuse.

While increases in water efficiency are vital in reducing the amount of water being used, reusing non-potable water for landscape irrigation  further reduces the community’s peak summer water demand and residents’ water bills.

Laura: There are a few jurisdictions implementing greywater reclamation provisions across the state. The detailed information and illustrations in the guidance document really offer jurisdictions a robust and no-cost resource to educate their own residents, developers, architects and plumbing contractors who may be looking for information on plumbing code compliance.

Q: What are some next steps local jurisdiction staff can take in terms of dual drainage ordinances?

Laura: We encourage sustainability staff or building officials to share this information with their colleagues who are responsible for water policy. They can share the guidance document on their own city websites as a resource to accompany other greywater permitting resources they may provide.

Christina: There are some additional terrific resources listed in the guidance document where interested individuals can go for more information.

Sherry: The collaboration to develop these resources has been wonderful. We welcome anyone interested in water efficiency to learn more about how including an ordinance like this one into a reach code package can help local jurisdictions progress toward their CAP goals. For more information, contact Rachel Levine, project manager for the statewide reach code program on water issues.

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This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E®), and Southern California Edison Company under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission and in support of the California Energy Commission.

© 2021 Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, and Southern California Edison.

All rights reserved, except that this document may be used, copied, and distributed without modification.

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