As of 2020, almost all new houses built in California will have to rely on photovoltaic energy systems, according to the energy efficiency standards approved last week by the Energy Commission of this State. With this decision, Californians will reduce energy use in new homes by more than 50 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to taking 115,000 fossil fuel fed cars off the road.
The 2019 buildings energy efficiency standards, approved last week by the California Energy Commission to take effect on January 1, 2020, will focus on four key areas: smart residential photovoltaic systems, upgrading of thermal insulation, ventilation requirements for residential and non-residential stock, and lighting requirements for non-residential.
“Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever, while simultaneously contributing to a reliable network,” said Andrew McAllister, spokesman for energy efficiency at the Energy Commission. “The buildings that Californians will purchase and live in will operate very efficiently generating their own clean energy. They will cost them less to operate, they will offer healthy indoor air and provide a platform for ‘smart’ technologies that will further push the state towards a low emissions future“.
Under the new standards, non-residential buildings will use approximately 30 percent less energy due mainly to lighting upgrades, the Commission explains in a press release. For residential homeowners, based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that the standards will increase about $ 40 the average monthly payment, but will save consumers $ 80 on monthly bills for heating, cooling and lighting.
For residential homeowners, based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that the standards will increase about $ 40 the average monthly payment, but will save consumers $ 80 on monthly bills for heating, cooling and lighting.
“With this adoption, the California Energy Commission has struck a fair balance between reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously limiting the higher construction costs,” said Dan Dunmoyer, CEO and president of the California Construction Industry Association. “We thank the Commissioners and their staff who have worked with the construction industry for the past 18 months and who have adapted a set of rules that guarantee that buyers will recover their money during the life of the home.”
The Association of Solar Energy Industries (SEIA) has also welcomed the news. Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA, described it as “an undeniably historic decision for the State and the United States.” In her opinion, California has long been the country’s solar leader, which has generated enormous economic and environmental benefits, and now it is again taking the initiative recognizing that solar energy “should be as common as the front door of a home.”
The combination of photovoltaic solar energy on rooftops and energy storage systems installation provides builders with an attractive and cost-effective option to completely electrify homes, she said.
The combination of photovoltaic solar energy on rooftops and energy storage systems installation provides builders with an attractive and cost-effective option to completely electrify homes
“Other states may not yet be ready for this step, but this is a policy that sets precedents, one that will bring huge benefits and cost savings to consumers. And I hope and believe that when other states, many of which develop fast-growing solar markets, see the benefits of this policy, they will develop equally aggressive policies, “she added. According to the newspaper El País, due to space restrictions, tall buildings are exempt from the obligation of having solar panels as approved by the Commission.
California is, indeed, the leading solar market in the country, with more than 21 gigawatts of solar energy installed, five times more than any other State and with almost 40 percent of the solar total installed capacity in the United States. The solar industry has created 43 billion dollars of investment in the economy of California and has employed more than 86,000 Californians, a number that will grow under this new policy, according to the SEIA.