California approves plan to mandate solar on new home construction

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The California Energy Commission has adopted building standards that require solar photovoltaic systems on new homes, 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, according to the commission.

The 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, which will 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 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, who is the energy commission’s lead on energy efficiency, said in a statement. “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.”

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