The California Energy Commission passed a new order as a part of the 2019 Building Efficiency Standards mandating the installation of solar panels on most newly constructed homes starting in January of 2020.
“Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever at the same time they contribute to a reliable grid,” said Andrew McAllister, California Energy Commissioner. “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.”
Energy efficiency is more than a trend; it is growing to a large-scale movement, especially in the housing market. Analysis has shown that environmental consciousness aides in the resale of homes as well. The solar industry has been on a climb for the past few years especially, with solar panel installation rates more than doubling in the US between 2015 and 2016 (according to the Solar Energy Industries Association). The new California mandate will also create new jobs in the solar industry as demand increases.
Although the newly installed solar panels will become a permanent step towards a solution to the energy crisis (the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of eliminating 115,000 fossil fuels cars), critics worry that the policy will damage California’s already wavering housing infrastructure, and thus turn off other states to the idea of following suit, and going solar. They claim the new mandate will benefit investors at the expense of the average citizen. The California Energy Commission, however, argues that the increase added to monthly mortgage payments will be offset by the savings in heating, cooling, and electric utilities charges.
It is also likely that, as solar power becomes a more mainstream energy source, the cost of installation and services will decrease, easing inflation. The cost has already decreased significantly since the technology’s first implementation.
The Commission hopes that this mandate will lay the foundations for a national, or even global, move towards an environmentally friendly housing industry.