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On Wednesday, California became the first U.S. state to require solar panels on new homes, a move that signifies solar’s move into the mainstream. The measure will require units built after Jan. 1, 2020 to adopt the standards set by the California Energy Commission.
The Commission unanimously approved the new standards, which are expected to increase home prices by about $10,000.
The standards 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 nonresidential ventilation requirements, and nonresidential 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.
“Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever, at the same time they contribute to a reliable grid,” Commissioner Andrew McAllister said in a release. “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, nonresidential 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.
“With this adoption, the California Energy Commission has struck a fair balance between reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously limiting increased construction costs,” California Building Industry Association CEO and President Dan Dunmoyer said in a release. “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.”
California’s decision is certainly well received by the Tesla Energy division, which produces solar panels and battery storage systems. The company began earlier this year installing its solar roof product.
For more information about the standards, view the Commission’s frequently asked questions page.