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Solar Building Design on the Rise

California Approves New Energy Efficiency Rules
Source: Mark Glover 2012.5.31, Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. California officials on Thursday approved energy efficiency standards for new homes and commercial buildings that officials are describing as the toughest in the nation.

Members of the California Energy Commission voted unanimously in favor of amended standards that will require improved windows, more efficient air conditioning and lighting systems, and other features intended to reduce energy consumption, The Sacramento Bee reported.

The new requirements, set to go into effect in 2014, will reduce energy use in California homes and businesses by 25 percent or more, commission officials said.

For new homes, solar-ready roofs that will allow for the installation of solar panels, and windows that allow increased sunlight while decreasing heat gain will be required. Hot water pipe insulation and independent air conditioning inspections are also part of the new standards.

Commercial buildings will also be required to have solar-ready roofs, as well as so-called high-performance windows and lights controlled by sensors.

Supermarkets, computer data centers and other businesses will also be required to have more energy-efficient equipment.

"These standards are the strongest in the nation ... giving us the most efficient buildings in the nation," Commissioner Karen Douglas told the Bee.

Energy efficiency standards approved by the commission have saved Californians more than $66 billion in electricity and natural gas costs since 1978, according to commission officials.

Santa Cruz County Building......A Good Model for Monterey County Solar Projects
Nearly 20 builders statewide are filling the alternative energy market niche by providing solar PV options in new residential subdivisions. The spectrum of builders includes entry-level to luxury homebuilders ranging from San Diego to Sacramento.

Due to Sacramento Municipal Utility Districts (SMUD) pioneering efforts in the PV industry, 15 Sacramento-area builders offer PV systems on new residences. Sacramento builders have taken a liking to the more aesthetic Sun Slate roof tiles. Morrison Homes offers a 2.1 kW Sun Slate system that costs homeowners an additional $11,000. Beazer Homes offers entry-level homes, starting at just $150,000, with 3.2 kW Sun Slate PV systems. U.S. Home Corp. intends to offer solar panels as options on thousands of new homes in the greater Sacramento area over the next five to six years.

In San Diego, Shea Homes is matching the demand for luxury homes with renewable energy systems. In partnership with Astro Power, they are building $400,000 to $600,000 homes with 1.2 kW PV systems. In Watsonville, Santa Cruz County, Clarum Homes has partnered with BP Solar to offer Cherry Blossom a green residential development featuring homes with one to two kilowatt PV systems. Monthly utility savings are expected to average $25-50 per home as a result of on-site energy generation. In Santa Barbara, Pardee Homes and Astro Power will offer a solar option on 97 new homes next year. The City of Petaluma is encouraging builders to include a solar option on 10% of new residential units. Contra Costa County and the City of Oakland are currently researching ways to incentivize new solar homes.

For more information on building a solar and green home in Monterey click here: Monterey Green Building Program

For more information on building a solar and green home in Santa Cruz click here: Santa Cruz Construction Guild and Green Building Design

For more information on rebates for solar homes in San Benito County click here: San Benito County Energy Rebates for Solar Housing

[source: LGC Currents May/June 2002]

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