California Energy Commission Backs Solar Mandate for New Buildings

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September 3, 2021

On August 11, 2021, the California Energy Commission (CEC) adopted the 2022 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Energy Code) for new construction and renovated buildings. The CEC expects that the code updates “will produce benefits to support the state’s public health, climate and clean energy goals.” According to the CEC, in California, homes and businesses consume nearly 70% of electricity, which generates about one-fourth of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The American Institute of Architects California, whose members testified in support of the new standards, issued a statement noting that the proposed Energy Code requires many new commercial buildings, including high-rise residential projects hotels, offices, medical offices and clinics, retail and grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and civic venues, to include solar power and battery storage.

The CEC adopts standards every three years. In its 2019 Energy Code, California began requiring that single-family homes built after January 1, 2020, be equipped with solar power.

The next step for the 2022 update is consideration by the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC); this will likely occur in December 2021. If the CBSC approves the new standards, they will go into effect on January 1, 2023, giving builders, contractors, and other interested parties a year to gear up for the changes.

A New York Times article noted, “The last big change in the energy provisions of the state’s building code — the requirement for new single-family homes to be equipped with solar power — was approved in 2018. The rules took effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The impact so far has been limited, since builders who already had permits could operate under the previous standards, and the coronavirus pandemic disrupted work and the issuing of permits.”

Link to the CEC building codes executive summary https://www.energy.ca.gov/sites/default/files/2021-08/CEC_2022_EnergyCodeUpdateSummary_ADA.pdf

IIBEC Director of Government Relations John Boling

Boling joined IIBEC in early 2021. He focuses on increasing IIBEC’s influence on federal, state, provincial, and local public policy, helping shape codes and standards, expanding IIBEC’s influence in the building industry, and increasing the relevance and value of IIBEC’s policy positions. You can reach him at jboling@iibec.org.