California Mandates All New Homes Must Be Built Using Solar Energy

When it comes to renewable energy in the United States California is definitely a forerunner. The state has a law that at least 50% of all electricity generated will be carbon emission-free by the year 2030 and on May 9, 2018, the California Energy Commission unanimously approved a plan that mandates all new homes and apartment buildings must have some form of solar power.

Although similar mandates have been passed by U.S. cities, this one’s the first of its kind for a state. As per a press release from the California Energy Commission, these new requirements will be equivalent to taking 115,000 cars off the road.

So let’s take a closer look at this development.

As reported by Futurism, the “law” is actually a set of standards, which mandates much more than just solar panels on every new home. The 2019 Energy Efficiency Standards will also require new buildings to have better insulation and better ventilation, and they must have energy-efficient upgrades to lighting for non-residential buildings. The standards also encourage “demand-responsive technologies,” like battery storage systems and heat pump-based water heaters, which will respectively enable residents to store electricity when they’ve produced too much and thus to use less energy on heating.

The law applies to every single new home and every new apartment building of three stories or less.

They will all be required to have some form of solar power. Builders can either add panels to individual homes or create shared power systems for a group of homes. These homes will still be hooked up to the usual power grid for days when the sun isn’t shining. There is also an exception for homes that simply can’t use solar because they are completely in the shade.

First, the new standards have to be approved by the Building Standards Commission, which the BBC reports should make a decision by the end of the year. If that happens, the standards will take effect on January 1, 2020.

California’s economy is the fastest-growing in the nation, outdoing the U.S. economy altogether. Economic growth is usually followed by rising carbon emissions since a bustling economy encourages people to toss frugality out the window: they drive more, travel more, and use more electricity. But in recently, California’s growing economy has been “decoupled” from its emissions: between 2000 and 2014, the state’s CO2 emissions diminished by 6.3 percent even while its economy increased 28.2 percent.

If California’s climate-friendly energy policies, and its massive housing market, can continue to support a healthy economy, it will prove that climate regulations don’t hinder economic growth. That’s a claim that current President Donald Trump has made many a time. (For example: “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump said in March 2017, while signing an order to revoke the previous administration’s Clean Power Plan.)

Thus, California could prove to the nation, and the world, that investing in solar infrastructure is worth it. A sunny outlook indeed.



Image Credit: Sonpichit Salangsing / Shutterstock


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