Encinitas Charges Ahead

On August 18, the Encinitas City Council unanimously voted to move forward with the first major Building Electrification ordinance in the San Diego region, the 50th electric building code within California. The City Council directed staff to make the ordinance even stricter than the draft version presented to the Council. In essence, their Green Building Ordinance will require all new construction, both residential and commercial, to be all-electric. That includes water and space heating as well as indoor and outdoor cooking. Given that there are excellent highly efficient electric versions of these appliances, this forward-looking draft ordinance will be a bold trend-setter in the San Diego region.


Building electrification is an important step in moving away from reliance on natural gas and the greenhouse gases (GHG) it generates (7.5 tons per year for the average home). With the launch of North County’s Clean Energy Alliance, of which Del Mar is a founding member, and its offering of 100% clean energy from wind, solar, and hydro-electric, when buildings go all electric we can reduce a major source of GHG emissions.


Inspiring arguments were presented by Mayor Catherine Blakespear and Council Member Joe Mosca, saying that the climate crisis is an existential emergency, and that we must stop our use of fossil fuels as soon as possible. Council Member Mosca cited the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which painted a very dire forecast for our planet, a “Code red for humanity.” Even with immediate aggressive reduction in all GHG emissions throughout the globe, it will take 20-30 years to stop the ever accelerating increase in global temperatures, which result in severe weather such as heat waves, droughts, wildfires, intense storms, flooding, melting of polar ice caps, and sea level rise. Many of these changes are irreversible. However, if we do NOT aggressively reduce our GHG emissions, starting immediately, the disastrous effects of climate change will come sooner and be more severe. Life as we know it will be permanently altered. Eliminating any new gas infrastructure from new construction is an excellent first start on weaning our communities off natural gas.


On August 25, the Solana Beach City Council discussed a draft ordinance which would require electric space and water heating in all new construction and in major remodels. Staff will clarify the definitions of major remodels, and the draft ordinance will come back to Council. There has always been a friendly rivalry between Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar to see who will be the first to adopt environmental ordinances (such as the ban on single use plastic bags, Styrofoam take out containers, plastic straws and utensils), and each city has led on some ordinances. Let’s hope that Del Mar will follow in the footsteps of Encinitas and Solana Beach, and will consider a Green Building Ordinance too.