California becomes first U.S. state to mandate solar PV systems on new homes

The California Energy Commission announced yesterday the  adoption of building standards that require solar photovoltaic systems starting in 2020. 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.

The cost-effective 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, which take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, 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 ventilation measures improve indoor air quality, protecting homeowners from air pollution originating from outdoor and indoor sources. For the first time, the standards also establish 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 will perform better than ever, at the same time they 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.”

Under the new standards, non-residential buildings will use about 30 percent less energy due mainly to lighting upgrades. 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.

California Building Industry Association CEO and President Dan Dunmoyer said:

“With this adoption, the California Energy Commission has struck a fair balance between reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously limiting increased construction costs. We thank the Commissioners and their staff for working with the building industry during the past 18 months and adopting a set of cost-effective standards that ensures homebuyers will recoup their money over the life of the dwelling.”


Source: Press Release by California Energy Commission. Photo Credit: Matt Montagne via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).