The California Energy Commission has adopted new green energy policies as part of the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards that will take a major step toward achieving its net-zero energy goals. Part of the policy, Title 24 CalGreen regulation, includes a new solar mandate that will require solar installation on all new residential construction projects that obtain a building permit starting January 1, 2020.
“The new policy includes a landmark solar mandate that requires the installation of solar systems on virtually every new residential dwelling that secures a building permit after January 1, 2020,” Mark Vogel, president and COO of the builder division of Petersen Dean Roofing and Solar, tells GlobeSt.com. “No other state in the nation mandates solar, making California a leader in the movement to reduce the use of fossil fuel and improve our environment. The new CEC policy focuses on four key areas: smart residential photovoltaic systems, updated thermal envelope standards, preventing heat transfer from the interior to exterior and vice versa, ventilation requirements, and lighting requirements. Each standard will play a role in creating the optimal energy efficient house.”
This new building will impact both new homebuilders as well as homebuyers, but because the requirement is widespread, it shouldn’t have a major impact on costs. “Of course, builders are concerned with the costs of a solar system included in the home, but because this is required, it keeps them all on a level playing field in California, and as other states mandate solar, the same will apply,” says Vogel. “Since all new California homes will be required to install solar as a standard feature for which the buyers will pay, we don’t foresee any major competitive issues relative to cost since the products will, for the most part, be comparable based on home size, design, location, climate, and other variables.” However, builders may be challenged to find qualified staff to handle solar products and installation. “This lack of knowledge and know-how could put the builder in legal jeopardy with construction defect and other litigation, which could be costly for both the bottom line and their reputation,” adds Vogel. “The more you know about solar and prepare for its installation, the better for your company and your customers.”
So far, California is the first state to implement widespread solar requirements like this, but Vogel expects other states throughout the country and particularly in the West US. “Thoughtful legislation to reduce greenhouse gases at the local, state, and national levels is creating a new outlook on the future of renewable energy and power production, with solar at the forefront,” says Vogel. “As more national attention is focused on the growing importance of solar power as a clean energy source, the homebuilding industry, and individual builders are a critical part of this new generation of solar energy. Hopefully, as California continues down the solar road with quantifiable and meaningful outcomes, other states will adopt similar policies. States on the path to follow California’s lead include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. We believe this new paradigm is a win-win not only for homebuilders, but for energy providers, people, and the planet.”