California homes to be net zero from 2020

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12 June 2015

NEW YORK: A new plan was released in the US state of California, to provide the housing market with the right conditions for all new houses to be zero net energy from 2020.

The New Residential Zero Net Energy Action Plan was written by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission with the support of several market actors. The purpose is to provide a guide for the local government, utilities and industry actors, which will be updated and developed over time to include new technologies and marked developments.

Zero Net Energy (ZNE) homes are highly-efficient houses, which produce as much energy as they consume over a one-year time span, thanks to on-site renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and energy efficiency measures.

Libby Ferguson, States and Regions Director at The Climate Group, commented on the new plan: “California has once again proved its commitment to foster the country’s green economy and encourage more rapid technology uptake in the building sector. This plan will set a solid basis for a faster low carbon transition.”

The first step of the plan is to spread awareness about the benefits of ZNE houses, as most new home-buyers and builders are unaware of the energy savings and stability they could benefit from.

The plan’s second step is to ensure the technical tools are available and effective, create finance mechanisms that make the ZNE housing market affordable, and continue developing a clear ZNE policy framework.

California energy measures

The state of California, which is also a member of The Climate Group’s States and Regions Alliance, has set a series of ambitious policies and targets which have made it a global leader in climate positive actions.

“The bold actions taken by California are evidence that sub-national governments are the ones making a real commitment to fight climate change”, adds Libby Ferguson, “as they recognize the benefits and effectiveness of robust policies.”

The state’s plans for the building market also involve making all new non-residential buildings ZNE from 2030 and doubling the efficiency of existing buildings to reduce the emissions by heating fuels by 2030.

California is also aiming to source 50% of its energy from renewables by 2030, which will contribute to reducing its GHG emissions 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The state was also among the 12 states and provinces that signed the Subnational Global Climate Leadership Memorandum of Understanding in May, together with States & Regions members Baden-Württemberg, CataloniaOntario and Wales, which stresses the governments’ will to keep global warming below the agreed ‘safe’ 2°C threshold.

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 By Denise Puca

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