San Francisco Bids Goodbye to Natural Gas

The city’s ban will require electric appliances in all new construction as of 2021.

The city of San Francisco is banning natural gas in new buildings, meaning that stoves, furnaces and water heaters must all be electric powered. The ban takes effect in June 2021.

According to a report in Inside Climate News, San Francisco becomes the latest addition to a list of municipalities — most of them in California — that are attempting to tackle the climate crisis by shrinking the massive climate footprint of their buildings. 

SF Skyline featured

In an effort to cut carbon emissions, San Francisco will implement a ban on the use of natural gas in all new residential and commercial buildings starting next summer. Photo: Bogdan Migulski/Flickr 

Residential and commercial buildings account for more than 40 percent of San Francisco’s total greenhouse gas emissions, with the burning of natural gas responsible for most of that, according to city supervisor Rafael Mandelman. The gas itself, methane, is a climate super-pollutant capable of warming the planet 87 times faster than CO2 when leaked into the atmosphere, he notes.

Natural gas is also responsible for nearly 40 percent of the country’s total annual carbon emissions, or 619 million metric tons of CO2, according to the Energy Information Administration.

San Francisco’s ban is a big deal, according to Amanda Myers, a senior policy analyst for clean energy think tank Energy Innovation. If cities in California continue to rely on gas to heat new buildings through the next decade, Myers says, it will become increasingly difficult — if not impossible — for the state to meet its binding climate target of reaching carbon neutrality by 2045.

Alan Naditz is the managing editor of Green Builder magazine.  He has covered numerous industries in his extensive career, including residential and commercial construction, small and corporate business, real estate and sustainability.