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Powering the Future: Natural Gas Restrictions in California New Construction

In December of 2022, Los Angeles joined what is (at the time of writing) now 76 other California jurisdictions including San Francisco, Ventura County, and Carlsbad in greatly limiting the use of natural gas and other fossil fuel systems in new construction projects.

While areas having such policies, including Los Angeles, do have some exceptions, moving forward most building projects will have their natural gas systems significantly curtailed if not completely eliminated. Projects planned to take place in any one of these jurisdictions will therefore need to be executed a bit differently from a plumbing perspective. The main impact natural gas-free policies have on a project’s plumbing design will be seen in the water heating equipment selected. Gas-fired water heaters have historically been popular options for both individual and central water heating systems, and while some affected jurisdictions do have exceptions allowing gas-fired central water heating systems, most do not. Therefore, alternative water heating equipment must often be utilized. In order to meet this need, it is typically recommended that clients opt for the use of an electric heat pump water heating system.

Electric heat pump water heating systems are the most efficient and cost-effective method for heating water without the use of natural gas. These pieces of equipment function by transferring heat from the surrounding air to the incoming cold water. Projects using this type of equipment must plan for the additional electric demand as well as the different structural requirements for electric heat pump water heating systems. As time goes on, it can be expected that more and more jurisdictions will create additional policies limiting the use of natural gas in new building projects. With the proper plumbing design, projects in these areas can be executed successfully, providing an end product that meets and exceeds the expectations of our clients.

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