Residential and Commercial Energy Conservation Ordinance Update

The Berkeley Energy Commission and staff of the Office of Energy and Sustainable Development have developed a draft ordinance to replace RECO and CECO with an updated Building Energy Saving Ordinance (BESO)

Current Status Staff re-drafted the ordinance language for BESO to reflect changes to single-family building requirements.  Based on feedback from the community, Council elected to revise the original proposal for residential properties of 4 units or less. The first reading of the revised proposed ordinance was heard at the City Council meeting on February 24, 2015. If passed, BESO would:

  1. Eliminate the current mandatory energy and water prescriptive measures required at the time of sale or remodel under the existing RECO and CECO
  2. Provide exemptions and deferrals from requirements for:
    • High performance buildings with high scores or upgrades;
    • Buildings with low energy use as demonstrated by utility bill reporting;
    • Financial hardship including owners participating in energy assistance and/or property tax assistance programs; and
    • Time of sale, to allow buyers to accept responsibility for conducting assessment within 12 months of purchase.
  3. Require large (25,000 square feet or more) commercial, multifamily and mixed use buildings to report annual energy use information, and conduct and disclose a site-specific energy efficiency assessment of potential energy and cost-saving opportunities as specified in phase-in schedule below
  4. Require medium (5,000 to 24,999 square feet) and small (below 5,000 square feet) commercial, multifamily and mixed use buildings to conduct and disclose a site-specific energy efficiency assessment at the time of sale or as specified in phase-in schedule below (whichever comes first)Replace the Residential and Commercial Energy Conservation Ordinances
  5. Require single family residential buildings (1 to 4 units) to conduct and disclose a site specific energy efficiency assessment at time of sale
  6. Simplify the compliance process by enabling on-line applications and requiring only a single site visit.
  7. Report a summary of the energy assessments and the benchmark score, if applicable, on a City website.
  8. Direct the Energy Commission to evaluate ordinance in 3 years and reconsider phased-in requirements for all single family homes not meeting exemption and deferral criteria.  

The Role of RECO and CECO Berkeley's current RECO and CECO laws require buildings that are transferred or remodeled to install water and energy saving measures in order to reduce the electricity and natural gas usage and curb greenhouse gas emissions. RECO and CECO, enacted in 1987 and 1994 respectively, have played an important role in improving the energy efficiency of the existing building stock and saving the community money on utility bills while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

With nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in Berkeley coming from buildings, it is critical that we continue to advance innovative and smart energy efficiency strategies for our homes and businesses. On September 10, 2013, City Council adopted a resolution directing staff to initiate a public process to update the City's existing Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance (RECO) and Commercial Energy Conservation Ordinance (CECO) laws. 

Outreach The public process engaged energy experts, key stakeholders and the Berkeley community on how best to update these ordinances. City staff have met with stakeholders and the Berkeley Energy Commission hosted a series of workshops to inform residents and businesses and solicit feedback as the draft ordinance was developed.  

Workshops The Berkeley Energy Commission Workshops held three community workshops on following dates:

Stakeholder Meetings City staff have met with groups and individuals to answer questions and get input, including, but not limited to: Berkeley Association of Realtors, Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, Berkeley Climate Action Coalition, Berkeley Property Owners Association, and Business District Associations. The draft ordinance has also been presented to the Housing Advisory Commission, Community Environmental Advisory Commission (CEAC), Energy Commission, and Rent Board Safe and Sustainable Housing Committee for comments. 

In addition, City Council hosted a public worksession on BESO on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 6pm in Council Chambers, see Worksession Presentation.

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