In a move to cut energy use in new homes by more than 50 percent, the California Energy Commission on Wednesday adopted building standards that require solar photovoltaic (PV) systems starting in 2020.
The 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards will take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and focus on four key areas: smart residential photovoltaic systems, updated thermal envelope standards (preventing heat transfer from the interior to exterior and vice versa), residential and non-residential ventilation requirements, and non-residential lighting requirements.
"The building energy efficiency standards, which are the first in the nation to require solar, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to taking 115,000 fossil fuel cars off the road," a news release from the commission said.
The ventilation measures improve indoor air quality, protecting homeowners from air pollution originating from outdoor and indoor sources, according to the statement. It also reported that for the first time the standards also established requirements for newly constructed healthcare facilities.
Commissioner Andrew McAllister, who is the Energy Commission’s lead on energy efficiency, said under these new standards, buildings would perform "better than ever", and at the same time "contribute to a reliable grid".
"The buildings that Californians buy and live in will operate very efficiently while generating their own clean energy. They will cost less to operate, have healthy indoor air and provide a platform for 'smart' technologies that will propel the state even further down the road to a low emissions future," McAllister added.
Under the new standards, non-residential buildings will use about 30 percent less energy due mainly to lighting upgrades, according to the statement.
"For residential homeowners, based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that the standards will add about $40 to an average monthly payment, but save consumers $80 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills,” it said.
California Building Industry Association CEO and President Dan Dunmoyer thanked the Commission for adopting "a set of cost-effective standards that ensures homebuyers will recoup their money over the life of the dwelling".
"With this adoption, the California Energy Commission has struck a fair balance between reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously limiting increased construction costs," he said.
By Hale Turkes