Now that every new home built from 2020 onward in the state will be powered by solar, renewables will become a lot more commonplace–and the bonds between home builders and solar providers will become much tighter.
At the end of 2018, California gave final approval for new building codes that will require every new home built in the state to come equipped with rooftop solar, or source power from a community solar array–starting in 2020. From a sustainability policy perspective, this is a huge step forward. “It’s definitely a bold move,” says Kelly Knutsen, director of technology advancement for the California Solar and Storage Association (CalSSA), which pushed for the mandate to pass. California is the first state in the country to adopt such a mandate, and it will apply to the approximately 80,000 new homes built in the state every year. The code also requires new construction to have more rigorous efficiency measures–like thicker insulation and tighter sealing doors–and encourages building developers and solar providers to add onsite battery storage and solar-powered water-heating systems alongside the rooftop arrays.
Some critical energy experts point out that because residences fall far below other sectors like transportation or agriculture in terms of emissions, mandating that homes go all-in on solar won’t do much to help the state reach its goal of lowering emissions by 40% by 2030. But the hyperfocus on emissions statistics misses the implication of this policy. It demonstrates that political will for a change of this scale is possible (albeit in climate policy-friendly California)–and that we can make swift and necessary advancements in both the residential construction and solar industries.
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