Tackling the building code is the next step to address greenhouse gas emissions in California

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Sustainability has been a key priority for Adobe since the beginning — whether it’s how we manage our operations, contribute to a more sustainable world through our products, or work with our customers, partners, and other organizations to advocate for important policy changes. The most successful companies today are also good corporate citizens, and we believe that we have a responsibility to our employees, communities, investors, customers, and the environment to operate our business sustainably and enable others to do the same through our technology.

An integral component of our sustainability strategy is related to the operation of our buildings. Two years ago, we announced plans to construct a new office tower that would be all-electric and eventually run on 100 percent clean energy. Built alongside three other Adobe buildings that make up our company’s global headquarters in San Jose, the North Tower is the largest at 18 stories and 700,000 square feet, with the potential to accommodate 4,000 employees. Recognizing that an office building of this size could have a significant environmental impact, we knew from the beginning that we needed to do our part to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in California and design the new building to embrace sustainability

As we began work on the first all-electric office building in Silicon Valley, our design team looked at some best practices in the space but had few buildings from which to draw inspiration. Working alongside an outside consultant with experience in sustainable design and construction, we ultimately found three areas in which going all-electric would impact the building’s GHG emissions. First, we factored in food service and converted the natural gas stoves and ovens to induction and electric. Second, we converted the hot water heaters from gas to electric. And third, we designed the heating system to be powered by electricity.

Eventually, we hope to switch all the buildings that we own and manage around the world to all-electric as new technologies become available. We believe that building decarbonization is the way of the future and is an important way companies can play a role in reducing GHG emissions. That’s why Adobe has committed to a 100 percent global renewable energy goal by 2035.

Updating California’s building code

Being a California-headquartered company, we’ve drawn inspiration from the enormous gains the state has made in reducing GHG emissions in the electric power sector and achieving a 40 percent drop in the past decade. California has also taken bold steps to curb transportation emissions, including a requirement that all new cars and trucks be emissions free by 2035 and 2045 respectively.

Now, the State has an opportunity to scale up its climate leadership by tackling emissions produced by our buildings. Doing so will require a shift to all-electric buildings, which will allow California to boost its reliance on clean electricity coming from wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources. Why is it so important to focus on buildings? Most buildings run on multiple fuels and are one of the largest sources of planet-warming pollution. In the United States, they account for roughly 40 percent of the country’s energy use and GHG emissions.

In May, the California Energy Commission took an important step toward all-electric buildings with the release of draft language for the 2022 building energy code. The proposal includes important updates to the code that will help move the building market toward all-electric new construction. As a company that has always prioritized environmental sustainability, Adobe is grateful to see the California Energy Commission’s leadership in recognizing the value of all-electric buildings and keeping up the state’s momentum on climate action.

California has been moving at light speed the past two years, with more than 40 cities and counties adopting local building codes and ordinances for all-electric construction in their jurisdictions. Dozens more are considering the idea. Among the cities moving in this direction is San Jose, which adopted an all-electric new buildings ordinance in 2019. The city also has a 100 percent clean energy goal for all of its electricity.

Adobe is headquartered in San Jose and has its own 100 percent renewable energy target — and we strongly support the city’s efforts. In fact, we worked with the city of San Jose to push the community to go to 100 percent clean energy using true renewables, as opposed to offsets or unbundled renewable energy certificates, which buy clean energy elsewhere to offset local, dirty energy sources.

Decarbonizing buildings is not only essential to tackling the climate crisis, but it is also a significant economic opportunity. That’s why, last December, we joined 55 major companies and institutions urging California to prioritize policies that optimize energy use and reduce emissions in the building sector.

Arguments for broadening the state’s all-electric efforts are persuasive. Energy and Environmental Economics (E3) has produced several studies for California showing that the most cost-effective path to achieving emission reductions is rapidly electrifying buildings.

With so many potential benefits for Californians, we support and encourage California’s leadership on climate-change policy. Let’s build on all of the state’s good work to tackle the climate crisis by moving the state toward all-electric buildings and building a net-zero emissions future.