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This City Just Took a Big Step Toward a Clean Energy Future

This page was published 3 years ago. Find the latest on Earthjustice’s work.

San Francisco is about to enter the all-electric era.

The city’s Board of Supervisors voted to eliminate fossil fuels in new residential and commercial buildings starting in June 2021. Instead, homes and businesses will run on all-electric appliances, creating healthier, safer homes and significantly reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The ordinance, applauded by equitable housing and environmental groups, will apply to more than 54,000 homes and 32 million square feet of commercial space.

More than 30 California cities have changed their building codes to move toward gas-free construction. San Francisco joins San Jose as one of the largest cities to adopt such a policy. Their actions create a blueprint for other communities across the country seeking to curb climate pollution.

All-electric homes are healthier, safer, and more affordable.

  • Electric appliances do not create indoor air pollution, unlike burning gas.
  • The ordinance will slash San Francisco’s climate pollution: Gas burned in buildings makes up 44% of the city’s greenhouse emissions.
  • Studies show that all-electric construction reduces building costs by $6,000 per family home, or $1,500 per apartment unit.
  • Ditching gas removes the risk of leaks and gas explosions. This is especially important in earthquake-prone California, where up to half the fires after an earthquake are linked to gas lines and gas leaks.

Gas appliances are bad for our health.

  • Burning gas pollutes homes with toxic chemicals like carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and nitrogen dioxide, which are linked to lung damage, lifelong respiratory issues, and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Children who grow up in homes with gas stoves are 42% more likely to develop asthma symptoms.
  • Burning fossil fuels in buildings generates one tenth of climate-warming emissions in the U.S.

Most Californians want gas out of their homes.

  • In a March 2020 poll, 70% of Californians responded that, if given a choice of where their power comes from, they would choose all-electric appliances.
  • San Francisco joins a wave of other California cities that have also pledged to go all-electric in new buildings, including San Jose, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Mountain View, Santa Rosa, Saratoga, Cupertino, and Richmond.

Where San Francisco goes, the nation may soon follow.

  • Several other major world cities have pledged similar legislation to go all-electric, and are looking to California to lead the way.
  • President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s team has also pledged to usher the country’s housing toward higher energy efficiency, including financial incentives for electrifying appliances.

Moving U.S. cities toward all-electric homes is better for people and our planet.

We have the technology to transition the country’s building infrastructure to clean energy — now is the time for large-scale implementation. Read more about how electrifying buildings can alleviate a public health crisis in our housing supply while helping protect us all from climate catastrophe.

A father prepares a meal with his son on an induction stove.
Cooking on an electric induction stove. Children who grow up in a home with a gas stove are 42% more likely to develop asthma than those who don’t. Stronger efficiency standards pose threats to SoCalGas' business. (Tom Werner / Getty Images)