Fairfax’s efforts to go green

The Town’s adopted Climate Action Plan includes several measures to reduce emissions from buildings that primarily focus on replacing gas appliances with electric appliances, improving energy efficiency, and generating more electricity from renewables.

A significant action that the Town has taken to reduce emissions from buildings is through the adoption of reach codes. Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations contains the California Building Standards Code, which governs the design and construction of buildings, associated facilities, and equipment in the state. California updates these requirements every three years.

2022 Building Code

The latest 2022 Building Code was published July 1, 2022, with an effective date of January 1, 2023. All jurisdictions must adopt at least the minimum standards of the Building Code; however, State law authorizes local agencies to enact local amendments to the Building Code if reasonably necessary because of local climatic, geological, or topographical conditions. These local amendments are often termed “reach codes” and may be adopted as a green building ordinance at any time during the code cycle.

Ordinance 856

At the September 1, 2021 meeting, the Town Council adopted Ordinance 856 that required all newly constructed buildings to be all-electric buildings as of March 1, 2022. In doing so, Fairfax became the first jurisdiction in Marin County to require all-electric buildings for new construction. Over 60 jurisdictions across California have now adopted similar ordinances requiring all-electric buildings for new construction.

Ordinance 872

At the December 7, 2022 meeting, the Town Council adopted Ordinance 872 that includes several green building requirements that exceed the requirements of the 2022 California Building Standards Code, which took effect January 1, 2023. These requirements were developed in collaboration with County staff and staff from several Marin jurisdictions that included a comprehensive community engagement strategy. The reach code will help:

  • Provide equitable access to EV charging for renters.
  • Reduce emissions in single-family residences undergoing additions or alterations through the implementation of energy efficiency and electrification measures.
  • Improve water efficiency, material conservation, and indoor environmental quality in new and remodeled buildings.
  • Ensure buildings are electric-ready for the future installation of electric appliances and EV charging infrastructure.

Transitioning to electric

In addition to adopting reach codes, Town staff have been working on replacing gas appliances in any Town-owned buildings and generating electricity from renewables.

Back in 2009, a solar PV array was installed on the Pavilion roof to generate electricity for the building. In 2022, the gas water heaters were replaced in the Public Works, Police Station, Women’s Club, Pavilion, and Fire Department buildings with new heat pump water heaters (HPWHs).

Thanks to PG&E and MCE match funding through Willdan’s HPWH electrification program, the Town was able to have this work completed at zero net cost and is expected to reduce electricity usage by 42,120 kWh per year, gas usage by 4,919 therms per year, and lifecycle GHG emissions by 181 metric tons CO2e. The gas stove in the Women’s Club has also been replaced with a new electric induction stove. The Town will continue to pursue building electrification initiatives for all its facilities to reduce energy usage, utility costs, and emissions.

Fairfax Pavilion Solar Array

The Town also continues to purchase MCE Deep Green for all Town-owned buildings, which provides electricity sourced from 100% renewable energy.

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