New building codes aimed at decreasing the City's carbon emissions went into effect this month

Gas stoves, heaters and dryers are a thing of the past for new buildings in Santa Monica. Two new building codes that went into effect at the start of this year require all newly built constructions within city limits to be all-electric and include an increased number of electric vehicle (EV) charging spaces as part of efforts to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

Approved by city council in September, 2022, the new requirements build upon existing city and state codes. Both were initially introduced as part of Santa Monica’s Climate Action and Adaptation plan which lays out a plan to reduce the City’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2030.

Santa Monica buildings are currently responsible for about 30% of the City’s carbon emissions, due in large part to the burning of natural gas for space and water heating. Senior Sustainability Analyst for the City’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment Ariana Vito said focusing on fully electrifying new buildings is an effective way of reducing this impact going forward.

“We have a lot of new buildings that will be built to meet the state housing requirements,” she said. “This is kind of a low hanging fruit way to ensure that new buildings that are built are as sustainable as possible.”

Vito said that the prohibition of gas appliances in new builds is especially positive in light of recent studies that have highlighted the negative effects of gas stoves on health, including increasing risk for childhood asthma.

“It really enables us to kind of walk in reduced emissions and better health for people living and working in new buildings,” she said.

In addition to environmental and health benefits, Vito added that the new requirements have beneficial financial implications as well.

“The efficiency is so much better for a lot of electric appliances and there’s more flexibility in terms of being able to take advantage of lower electricity costs. For example, with water heaters you can program them to heat the water in the tank when electricity is cheaper during off peak periods,” she said.”It also reduces construction costs by not requiring a gas hookup, only electric, so one less connection for powering the facility.”

She said the increased EV charging space requirement makes sense for similar reasons.

“We’re seeing a pretty significant increase in EV adoption largely tied to reduced prices of electric vehicles and increased incentives at the state and now federal level,” she said, adding that removing roadblocks at the city level can help further facilitate the transition to non-gas transportation methods.

“Santa Monica has comparably pretty high adoption rates of EVs, but we know that the biggest challenge typically when people are interested in switching to electric is not having somewhere to charge in their home or work,” she said. “So ensuring that new buildings have increased levels of charging infrastructure just makes it that much easier.”

She added that there are rebates available at the federal, state and local level for those who purchase EVs.

Those interested in learning more about EV infrastructure and incentives in Santa Monica can visit https://santamonica.gov/topic-explainers/electric-vehicles.


Grace Adams

Grace Adams is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University where she studied Spanish and journalism. She holds a Master’s degree in investigative journalism from City, University of London. She has experience...