You probably heard it before and wandered if it was true…
By 2020, all new residential constructions in California will have to be Zero Net Energy, meaning they will have to produce as much energy as they consume. Actually, California Energy Efficiency Strategy Plan wanted to promote high performance homes to the point that they made it the only way available as of January 1st, 2020. Builders and Architects will have to think out of the box to reach this new standard. And by 2030, the same rule will be applied to all other new constructions.
What does it mean?
California wants to change the mindset in the building world. Like the state has done before with air pollution regulations, alternative fuels and many eco-friendly aspects of living, California’s Zero Net Energy mandate is changing the way homes are built and marketed. And if it can be done in California, why not expending this knowledge to reach clean energy buildings nationwide.
So, by 2020 all new homes in California will be required to incorporate advanced efficiency measures and rooftop solar. Meaning that, if builders want to stay in this tough business, they will have to do it as cost efficient as possible in order to remain appealing to potential homebuyers.
How can Zero Net Energy be reached?
First of all, it is nothing new for cities like West Hollywood and Santa Monica. They passed this requirement a while ago, making all new constructions already in line with the Zero Net Energy standards. For example, you can read the article about Santa Monica and its Living Building Challenge.
Also, this Zero Net Energy is not a West Coast specialty. All across the States, green buildings have been flourishing in the past decade, so there is plenty of idea/ knowledge to be shared. Take the example of New Buildings Institute (NBI). In 2012, they published the first-ever list of verified zero energy buildings. Click here for more information.
All in all, simple solutions can be implemented to reach this ZNE standards, like sufficient insulation and air tightness, efficient doors and windows, effective shading like Warema Exterior Blinds…The first goal is to limit energy consumption and the greenhouse gas emissions. Then, clean energy should be provided by solar panels on the roof, for instance.
With the new standards for Title 24 (the construction guidelines for California), the energy consumption should be reduced by 53% and over the course of 30 years, this will save $1.7 billion to Californians.
Let’s take a look at what is already done in Los Angeles.
Owned by developer Hanover Company and designed by TCA Architects, a multi-unit apartment building project in the City of Los Angeles allows renters to receive direct savings on their electric bills from rooftop solar installations owned and operated by the developer.
It is also the first project in Los Angeles where people can rent “eco-green” units designed to be highly sustainable, energy efficient, and zero net energy by producing enough solar power to meet each tenant’s annual electricity needs.
Another solution has been adopted by architect Christian Kienapfel from Paravant Architects. He decided to implement the Passive House standards and its 5 principles to build a residential house, while keeping the project cost competitive. The Passive House is a concept that came from Europe as guidelines to ultra-low energy buildings. We will talk about it later in an article.
To summarize, smart architects, engineers and builders already started and will not wait for January 1st, 2020 to extend their knowledge and their best practices. So, time to upgrade to the new Title 24!