Reach Codes and Home Energy Assessment Policy:  Information for Architects, Real Estate Agents, Planners, & Homeowners

Last updated: May 2, 2022 

The California Building Standards Code (California Code of Regulations, Title 24) sets statewide building code standards. Title 24, Part 6, also known as the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards or "Energy Code", contains mandatory measures for residential buildings (single family and multi-family) and non-residential buildings and sets an energy budget for each type of building. Title 24, Part 11, also known as the California Green Building Standards Code, contains mandatory requirements for all types of buildings in areas such as green materials and recycling, water efficiency, and electric vehicle charging. Title 24 receives updates every three years to incorporate the latest changes in construction and technology. The latest update (2019 Energy Code) went into effect on January 1, 2020. Starting January 1, 2023, the 2022 Energy Code will go into effect. The 2022 Energy Code encourages efficient electric heat pumps, establishes electric-ready requirements for new homes, expands solar photovoltaic and battery storage standards, strengthens ventilation standards, and more. When the Energy Code is updated, all cities and counties need to adopt the new Code and any local amendments to the Code. 

A reach code is a local amendment to (and reach above the requirements of) the Energy Code. In other words, a reach code is an ordinance adopted by a local government that requires something in addition to the requirements of the state's building code. Energy reach codes can address all types of buildings: new buildings, existing buildings, single family buildings, multi-family dwellings, commercial buildings, and industrial buildings. Reach codes are tools local governments can use to help reach various policy goals such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, meeting Climate Action Plan goals, saving energy and money over time, and increasing building resilience. 

During its February 1, 2021 regular meeting, Piedmont’s City Council adopted reach codes that require electrification and energy efficiency measures for new construction and existing residential building renovations. The reach codes are designed to meet the City’s Climate Action goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and natural gas usage in residential buildings. Natural gas use in residential buildings consistently comprises nearly half of Piedmont's in-territory greenhouse gas emissions. The reach code (Ordinance 750 N.S.) went into effect on June 1, 2021

In tandem with the reach code, the City Council adopted a Home Energy Assessment Policy. The Home Energy Assessment Policy requires each person who sells a home in Piedmont to provide a Home Energy Score or a Home Energy Audit prepared in the past 5 years to prospective buyers and the City. The policy is intended to provide important important information regarding the energy use, and the costs associated with that energy use, of the building(s) offered for sale. The Home Energy Assessment Policy (Ordinance 751 N.S.) went into effect on March 3, 2021. 

To read Ordinance 750 N.S. (reach code), please click here.
To read Ordinance 751 N.S. (home energy assessment policy), please click here.

To view a checklist of the requirements of the Ordinances, please click here. 
To download a Building Permit Application, please click here. 

2022 Reach Code Updates

To help inform the City's next iteration of reach code development, City staff are launching the 2022 reach code public engagement process. Read below to see how you can get involved:

  • Online Community Survey - City staff request all those who live and work in Piedmont to complete an online survey to provide feedback about the current reach code and suggestions for the next round. The online survey is live and will be open until May 20, 2022. A link to the survey can be found here. All those who complete the online survey will be entered into a raffle to receive a sustainability prize. 
  • City Council Meetings - At the May 2 City Council meeting, City staff provided an update on the implementation of reach codes and related updates to state law. A link to the staff report can be found here.
  • Community Forum - City staff held an in-person community forum on Wednesday, April 20 from 6:00-7:30pm at Piedmont Community Hall.  Staff presented an overview of Piedmont's current reach code, the 2022 Energy Code, and initial considerations for the next set of reach codes, followed by discussion/workshop to hear from meeting attendees their thoughts and opinions about the current and future set of reach codes.

Ordinance 750 N.S. (Reach Code) 

Ordinance 750 N.S. includes the following requirements:

  • Newly constructed low-rise residential buildings and new detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) must use all electric building appliances. No gas lines can be hooked up to these buildings.
  • Projects that include an entirely new level or expand the total roof area by 30% or more, must install solar panels on the roof.
  • A renovation project that costs $25,000 or more must include an energy efficient insulation or heating system electrification improvement to include in the renovation.
  • A renovation project that costs $100,000 or more must include two energy efficient insulation or heating system electrification improvements to include in the renovation.
    • The energy efficient insulation or heating system requirement can be modified with a Home Energy Score of at least a 7 completed in the last five years. This modification is included so homes that have been pursuing energy efficiency measures can be recognized for their efforts.
  • An application for an electrical panel upgrade must include capacity in the panel to accommodate future electrification of all appliances in the residence.
  • An application for a kitchen or laundry area renovation must include electrical outlets for future appliance installations.

Financial rebates, resources and incentives

Ordinance 751 N.S. (Home Energy Assessment Policy)

Each person who sells or transfers an interest in real property located in Piedmont must provide a Home Energy Score or a Home Energy Audit prepared in the past five years to potential buyers in addition to all other disclosure documents. The Home Energy Score or Home Energy Audit are not required if the home was constructed in the past 10 years.

What is the difference between a Home Energy Score and an Audit?

  • Home Energy Scores are guided by a series of requirements from the Department of Energy and can help homeowners identify areas to improve energy efficiency in their homes and save money. An assessor will do a walk through and provide suggestions and a score from 1-10, with 10 being the best score. A Home Energy Score will take less than 3 hours to complete and will generally cost less than $600. You can see a sample Home Energy Score from the DOE here
  • A Home Energy Audit is more expensive and time consuming, but will also provide more detailed suggestions for energy improvements. While a Home Energy Score may just include a walkthrough, an Audit will include measurements in each room of the home. You can see a sample Home Energy Audit here.  

Where to find an Energy Score or Energy Audit

What architects, real estate agents, and homeowners need to know:

  • If your home is listed for sale on or after March 3, 2021, you must include a Home Energy Score or Home Energy Audit with other relevant information provided to potential buyers.
  • Home Energy Scores cost a few hundred dollars, averaging $200-500:
  • Home Energy Audits can cost several hundred dollars, averaging $500-1,000:
    • Home Energy Audits are more expensive than Home Energy Scores, but they also provide a more thorough analysis of your home. Most HVAC companies can provide this service.
  • BayREN hosts an online search tool to find locally trained contractors and provides contact information to speak with a Home Energy Advisor, free of charge.  

Background Information


At its meeting on July 20, 2020, the City Council approved the first reading of the reach codes ordinances, but directed staff to do additional public outreach and answer resident questions before it considered the regulations for final approval.

At its meeting on February 1, 2021, the Piedmont City Council approved the second reading and final passage of an ordinance implementing reach codes, which are designed to promote efficient building methods in homes in Piedmont. The February 1 Agenda Report provided additional information, including:

  • Which projects would trigger solar panel requirements, and what exemptions exist for solar panels.
  • How much insulation or solar panel installation would cost upfront, and how much these items would save homeowners over time.
  • An exemption for certain energy efficiency improvements with a Home Energy Score of 7 or greater.
  • Staff’s criteria for granting exceptions to these requirements.
  • Further clarifying the role and power of the building official in permit decisions
  • How lingering concerns are to be addressed.

What are Reach Codes?

The amendments – collectively referred to as “Reach Codes” – alter the requirements for home construction and renovation in Piedmont to facilitate building insulation, electrification, and solar panel installation, helping the Piedmont community reduce natural gas use in buildings and move towards community Climate Action Plan goals. The proposed amendments would also make homes more comfortable, decrease air pollutants, and provide homeowners with opportunities to save money.

Noteworthy public engagement since July include the development and posting of a list of frequently asked questions on the City’s website and a virtual Town Hall held in early September. Through these efforts, City staff worked to gather more input from residents and further clarify the proposed regulations ahead of the February 1 Council meeting.

In November 2020, research firm FM3 conducted an additional city-wide voter survey to supplement the public opinion survey that was completed in June 2020. The survey asked hundreds of Piedmont residents their opinions on the proposed reach codes and how the codes would affect them.

How do reach codes relate to the Climate Action Plan?

Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan 2.0 sets an ambitious goal of reducing in-territory greenhouse gas emissions 80% between 2005 and 2050. The Piedmont community will not meet its 2050 target unless natural gas appliances are phased out of use (see below). Beyond releasing carbon emissions, natural gas appliances emit a variety of other dangerous pollutants when used. Decreasing natural gas use will decrease homeowners’ exposure to these dangerous pollutants.
The vast majority of Piedmont residences and businesses receive electricity generated by 100% renewable sources by virtue of being customers of East Bay Community Energy’s Renewable 100 electricity service. Building electrification and solar panel installation, will increase the amount of building energy supplied from renewable electricity and decrease the amount supplied from natural gas.

Current emissions vs. Emissions goals

Contacts and further information

If you have questions or concerns about Ordinance 750 N.S. or 751 N.S., please contact Building Official Paki Muthig ([email protected]) or Sustainability Program Manager Alyssa Dykman ([email protected]).