CA Mandates Solar Panels for New Homes


California’s Building Standards Commission gave the final approval last week that mandates the requirement for solar panels on new homes, slated to take effect in 2020, making it the first state to have such a rule.

"These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country," said commissioner Kent Sasaki, according to The Mercury News. "[It's] the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels."

The Rule

The building code approval comes after the mandate was unanimously approved in May by the California Energy Commission.

The mandate calls for solar-energy installation on most single-family homes, and most multi-family residential buildings that are up to three stories.

The ruling includes compliance credits for the installation of battery storage, meaning homeowners with the systems can capture their own electricity and store it.

Exemptions are available for buildings under a certain amount of shade, or those that have insufficient space for a solar installation.

Bob Raymer, the technical director for the California Building Industry Association, said back in May that state regulators are working with buildings to reduce overall costs and provide design flexibility. That cooperation, he said, was key to getting the industry on board with such regulations.

The commission estimates that the mandate will add an average of $9,500 to the upfront cost of a single-family home, and also estimated that the savings in energy costs over a 30-year period could reach around $19,000.

The commission also calculated that the standards will add about $40 to an average monthly mortgage (over 30 years), but at the same time, estimated about an $80 savings on monthly utility bills.

Homeowners will have the option of either buying panels outright, leasing them or entering into a power purchase agreement with developers. Communities also have the option to band together and pool resources instead of fitting individual homes.

“Six years ago, I was very fearful of this,” said Bob Raymer, technical director for the state building association. “But the very open arrangement that we have with the (energy commission) … brought us to the point where we can support this.”


Tagged categories: Building Envelope; Green building; North America; Regulations; Residential Construction; Solar; Solar energy

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