Beginning today, Santa Cruz County will now require that new residential construction be all-electric builds in urban unincorporated areas of the county.

Under the new rules, all appliances, heating or cooling units and water heating must rely only on electricity for power.

The building electrification regulations apply starting Jan. 1, 2023, to all new residential construction, including residential areas of mixed-use projects, multi-family, single-family and accessory dwelling units located within the urban services line.

“This is a major first step in our ongoing efforts to reduce our carbon footprint from the built environment.”

Dave Reid, Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience

Most buildings are powered by a combination of natural gas and electricity, but more cities are moving toward electrification on new construction to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.

“This is a major first step in our ongoing efforts to reduce our carbon footprint from the built environment,” said Dave Reid, director of the county’s Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience.

Electricity is a cleaner source of fuel than natural gas because it can be drawn from renewable sources, while natural gas produces greenhouse gases when combusted.

Electrified buildings would use electric heat pumps instead of natural gas for heating and cooling the structure and for water heating.

Heat pumps work to heat or cool a space by pulling heat from outside to heat an indoor space or pulling heat from inside to cool it.

The new rules do not apply to non-residential buildings, non-residential sections of mixed-use buildings or permitted residential buildings that are located beyond the urban services line. They also do not affect construction within local incorporated cities.