Mayors for building electrification: Albany Mayor Preston Jordan

Mayor Preston Jordan is a scientist and advocate leading Albany, California into an electric future.

Cat Lane |
Residential neighborhood in Colorado, USA. Summertime.
Emily McCabe

Clean energy intern

For decades, Preston Jordan, mayor of Albany, California, has been advocating to better his community. As a scientist by day, and mayor by night, climate issues are important to Jordan in all aspects of his life, especially his public service. Now, thanks in part to Jordan’s advocacy, Albany is leading the way on building electrification by requiring new construction to be all-electric. Jordan has been a part of the action all along.

Jordan has long been an advocate for change in his local community, with a focus on climate issues. He realized that he could affect outcomes in his city by showing up to each and every meeting that the city council held. His initial advocacy work focused on biking and pedestrian safety, and he co-founded the cycling advocacy group Albany Strollers & Rollers in 2004. While many people joined the group because they enjoyed biking and cared about public safety, Jordan called this a “climate stealth move.” For Jordan, this was a chance to reduce emissions in the transportation sector. With safer streets, people could bike to work instead of driving a car.

After working on climate issues for decades, Jordan came into his role as a councilmember, and then as mayor, at a time when Albany started leading the way for building electrification. After advocating for emissions reductions for many years, Jordan joined the city council in 2020. One of the first policies he voted on was a historic resolution that encouraged electrification of newly constructed residential, retail and office buildings. “As building electrification has emerged as one of the main sector solutions… we wanted to cover the portion of Albany’s emissions that were uncovered by anybody, and the technology became more viable,” said Jordan. In addition to this transformative ordinance, Albany offers extra assistance to make electrification financially feasible.

To help households transition to electric technologies, Albany offers rebates for heat pumps that make them more affordable. Once again, Jordan’s many years of advocacy on climate issues are responsible for this policy. At a city council meeting in 2010, the city was considering reauthorizing a utility user tax, which could be applied to gas, water or other utilities. When Jordan realized the tax was under local control, he spoke up, saying: “If you’re going to reauthorize this tax, you need to dedicate a part of this revenue to addressing greenhouse pollution.” 

Following this initial meeting came nine long years of policy development, resulting in a recommendation for a utility tax where one third of the revenue went to greenhouse pollution reduction and climate adaptation.

For the first time in Albany, we now have dedicated funding for taking climate action. Preston Jordan
Mayor of Albany, California

This funding is used to lower the cost of electric technologies for households who are transitioning off fossil fuels.

Jordan doesn’t just focus on climate issues in his policy work – his profession as a scientist actually involves exploring the risks of proposed climate solutions. As a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Jordan evaluates the risks of geologic carbon sequestration, a process that takes carbon from the atmosphere and solidifies it in rock. Jordan even served as an advisor to the California Air Resource Board on the regulation of this process. Now, he brings the rationality of a scientist to the task of building electrification. In working with StopWaste and BayREN, Jordan is exploring a concept called rational gas network pruning. This process targets strategic buildings for electrification within the gas distribution network. If electrified, these buildings will reduce the gas distribution network and hasten the transition to an all-electric future.

As an advocate, a scientist, and now as mayor, Preston Jordan has been a champion on climate issues. His rationality as a scientist drives his advocacy – “I bring that spirit into my policy work, in my night job as a council member and an advocate. In that domain, I try to base whatever I’m pushing on objective, quantitative information and adjust what I’m pushing for when I receive counterfactual information.” 


My love of Albany and interest in serving Albany is that it is a place where we can do new things. There’s that saying, states are the laboratory of democracy - well I say, Albany is the test tube of democracy. Preston Jordan
Mayor of Albany, California

Emily McCabe

Clean energy intern

Emily McCabe is an undergraduate at the University of California Berkeley studying Society and Environment. During her college career, she has worked to promote environmental education at high school and college campuses around the globe. As a Clean Energy Intern with Environment America, Emily testified in support of climate policies for the state of California. In this blog series, Emily has worked to advance building electrification at the city level with outreach to local elected officials.

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