California to Require All New Homes to Have Solar Power

California to Require All New Homes to Have Solar Power

As expected, the California Energy Commission (CEC) passed a first-in-the nation rule Wednesday, mandating that all new homes constructed in the state will be equipped with solar panels.

The California Energy Commission determined that installing a solar power system and complying with other new measures will add $9,500 to the cost of a new home, Bloomberg reported.

The updated building code also includes stricter efficiency standards on lighting, ventilation, windows, walls and attics for non-residential as well as residential structures.

The new rules apply specifically to all new residences and major home renovations on buildings under three stories, starting on January 1, 2020.

Incredibly, the mandate's supporters are using the high cost of California housing to argue for the rule, by suggesting the new expenses will be relatively insignificant.

As explained in a blog from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the policy, which is the first of its kind in the US, "will combine rooftop solar panels with enough energy efficiency measures like insulation and better windows" - in turn, bringing the building to net-zero electricity. Exceptions or alternatives will be allowed when homes are shaded by trees or buildings or when the home's roofs are too small to accommodate solar panels.

"Adoption of these standards represents a quantum leap in statewide buildings standards", said Robert Raymer, technical director for the California Building Industry Association.

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Solar power in California provided almost 16% of the state's electricity by the end of 2017.

This is about the commission's "net-zero energy" goals of having all new homes give back to electric grid as much as they take from it. But consumers would get that money and more back in energy savings, according to the commission.

Luxury home sellers saw only a 13 percent gain in value over comparable houses when listing solar energy as an amenity, the study found.

"Low mortgage payments alone don't make for affordable housing", said George Koertzen, construction superintendent at Habitat for Humanity in San Joaquin County, in a statement.

On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission voted unanimously on new building regulations for virtually every new home that is built in the state. California's average home costs are already well above the national average thanks in part to a diminished supply - a challenge for which all six major gubernatorial candidates say they have a solution.

Residential and commercial buildings are estimated to contribute about 40 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions, said Andrew McAllister, a state energy commissioner.

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