Skip to Content

For Immediate Release

Sonoma County adopts updated state building codes with local amendments

SANTA ROSA, CA | December 08, 2022

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted this week to adopt the California Model Building Codes, which includes requiring the use of electric appliances exclusively in most new residential construction.

The new code advances the county’s climate action goals by requiring new commercial structures include solar panels and energy storage, and requiring dwellings to have all-electric appliances, with the exception of cooktops, and the infrastructure to support them. Electric appliances may utilize renewable energy to power home appliances to reduce the emissions from their use.

The county modified the plumbing code to allow for composting toilets in response to community feedback from low-income residents and housing advocates. These code revisions are one way Permit Sonoma is addressing alternative housing and will bring additional emergency housing provisions back to the Board of Supervisors next year. 

“These building code amendments go beyond what’s required by the state but not beyond what’s needed in this climate emergency,” said Supervisor James Gore, chair of the Board of Supervisors. “Climate change continues to be one of the most critical issues that we’re facing today, and as local leaders we’ll continue to step up and take bold action.”

The move away from using natural gas in appliances in new homes and commercial structures is in line with Sonoma County’s Five Year Strategic Plan’s Climate Action and Resiliency goals to reduce emissions and become carbon neutral by 2030.

The 2022 model codes require new dwellings to be electric ready which means having the necessary electric infrastructure built into the dwelling. The 2022 codes also require commercial structures install solar panels and to have energy storage systems such as batteries, generating and storing solar energy.

Sonoma County adopted reach codes relative to the type of appliances a newly constructed dwelling may contain. A reach code is a local building energy code that “reaches” beyond the state minimum requirements for energy use in building design and construction. The new code requires electric appliances in homes with an exception is allowed for a natural gas or propane cooktop. Building code regulations do not apply to outdoor, stand-alone or non-plumbed appliances such as barbecues, space heaters and fire pits. 

The model building codes go into effect Jan. 3, 2023. To have a project reviewed using the current 2019 building codes, a complete application must be received prior to Jan. 3. While Jan. 2 is a holiday and Permit Sonoma offices will be closed, applications may be submitted online until midnight. Based on the volume of applications, the intake review process will likely take several weeks. Applications found to be incomplete on or after Jan. 3 will be required to comply with the codes and amendments passed by the Board of Supervisors.

Media Contact:
Bradley Dunn, Permit Sonoma Policy Manager
(707) 321-0502 
2550 Ventura Ave.
Santa Rosa, CA 95403