California becomes first state requiring all new homes be built with solar

California becomes first state requiring all new homes be built with solar

The California Energy Commission approved new building standards that include the solar panel requirement for all new residential buildings under construction as of January 1, 2020.

Meanwhile, non-residential dwellings will achieve energy savings of 30%, the Energy Commission estimates.

It would be the first such mandate nationwide and California's latest step to aggressively curb greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, solar is included on just 15 percent to 20 percent of new single-family homes, said Bob Raymer, technical director for the California Building Industry Association.

"We think it's another example of California policy preceding what will happen in other markets", Tom Werner, chief executive of San Jose-based solar company SunPower, said in an interview ahead of the decision.

Starting in 2020, virtually all new homes in California will be required to incorporate advanced efficiency measures and rooftop solar - in a historic development for clean energy in the state.

Some conservatives were not so enthusiastic, noting that the state already has some of the nation's most expensive housing markets.

The commission endorsed the requirement after representatives of builders, utilities and solar manufacturers voiced support.

Any new requirement like this was always going to increase the cost of construction, but the long-term benefits of a solar PV installation will well and truly offset those costs.

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State Sen. Scott Wiener pushed for the solar requirement while on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and also introduced a bill a year ago that would have required all new commercial and residential buildings to have solar panels.

Critics said the new measures will drive up the cost of building new homes by almost $10,000, in a state already facing a housing crisis and soaring construction costs.

There are still significant upfront costs of requiring the solar panels on rooftops of new homes.

California, the 5 largest economy in the world, is about to mandate the installation of solar panels in all the new homes.

The approved standards still allow new home construction to continue with some natural gas but it looks to reduce gas need over time and facilitate a shift to high-efficiency electric appliances, such as heat pump water heaters. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

The state set a solar power generation record in April and regulators say the state is on track to meet its 2030 renewable energy goal. Homes that are shaded by trees or taller buildings, as well as houses with roofs too small to accommodate a PV system, would be eligible for exceptions or alternatives to the mandate. The commission projects that home energy savings will total about $16,251 over the span of 30 years.

"Alex Steffen, who writes about sustainability and urban planning, said the state's biggest climate challenge is the fact that Californians drive so much".

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