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Thursday, September 20, 2007

All New Homes Should Be Zero-Net-Energy By 2020 Says California Utility Commission

Those crazy Californians are at it again: on Monday, the California Public Utility Commission suggested a "ambitious but attainable" goal that by 2020, all new housing in California be so energy efficient that every subdivision could easily produce all it's own energy with on-site solar panels, wind turbines or small generators. Commercial buildings would follow suit by 2030.

With energy use in buildings responsible for almost half of all annual greenhouse gas emissions and two-thirds of all U.S. electricity generation going to homes and businesses, "Zero-net-energy" homes and businesses could be a potent tool in the fight against global warming.

Trouble is, the CPUC doesn't regulate the housing market (just investor-owned California utilities). The California Energy Commission does set energy efficiency standards for new construction and the California Legislature could always pass aggressive new building codes.

Still, the California Public Utility Commission's advocacy of super-efficient new construction could set a revolutionary process in motion: zero-net-energy building standards open the door for a revolutionary change in electricity production to a distributed web of customer-sited generation, forestalling the need for new central-station power plants and massive investments in long-distance transmissions infrastructure.

SFGate (the San Fransisco Chronicle's online home) has the full story.


Anonymous said...

too bad they don't want net producers.

Jesse Jenkins said...

First things first, eh Josh?! If we get all homes to be net-zero energy by 2020, let's start talking about net producers by 2030, ok? Having all new construction be net zero energy is an ambitious enough goal, in my opinion.

ADH said...

Seems hard unless it is applied like a fleet MPG standard, as in across all new construction by a particular builder in a year. I say this only because many homes are built in areas of little sun (north-facing slopes, surrounded by shade trees, etc.), or little wind.

Is a micro-generator really more efficient after solar and wind are out?

Nonetheless, pursuing all reasonable improvements should be commended. It would be great to see a follow-up with details on this impressive suggestion.