Part 1: California Ramps Up Zero Net Energy for Residential Properties


California Ramps Up Zero Net Energy for Residential Properties

According to the US Energy Environment Administration, commercial and residential buildings consume 40% of the primary energy and 70% of the electricity (EIA 2005). This is expected to continuously increase as new construction projects come out faster than old buildings retire. To solve the problem, government officials have planned out ways on how to reduce the demand, and that is through the promotion of zero net energy.

California on Zero Net Energy by 2020

California has released the Residential New Construction Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Action Plan to ensure that the California Long-term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan (CEESP) can effectively achieve their goal to strictly build 100% sustainable and energy-efficient low-and mid-rise residential properties by 2020. This will promote the reduction of properties’ dependency on fossil fuel-derived energy by using on- and off-site renewable energy sources.

Homes built after 2020 should be designed and constructed to ZNE standards. This can be done by incorporating energy modeling software during the design phase to ensure that the right mix of energy-saving technologies and construction improvements are appropriately executed to achieve the mandated requirements. New homes are expected to have energy-efficient attics and walls, properly installed insulations, and improved windows and doors. Additionally, these new homes should either have solar rooftop panels or shared solar photovoltaic systems.

California’s new homes are also expected to produce as much as clean energy as it consumes annually.

The project may require a hefty amount of upfront expenses. However, with the continuous use of renewable energy and proper management, consumers can expect utility bill savings that exceed the expenses that they need to shell out to meet the code requirements. According to Environment America, homeowners could save $10,000 to $30,000 over a 20-year period, considering the extent of the state’s pro-solar policies.

California’s Commitment to 100% Clean Energy

California is the very first state that mandated the zero-net electricity. The goal is not only to reduce carbon emission, but also to save energy and water, and prop up the reliability of electricity. In fact, the state has been releasing building codes and state laws to achieve their ambition to promote clean energy. Another good example is the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, a state law that aims to solve global warming by establishing a comprehensive program to decrease the greenhouse gas emissions from all sources throughout the state. This is currently implemented by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

During the A Path to Zero Net Energy Symposium held at Fresno State University, Commissioner Andrew McAllister of the California Energy Commission (CEC) said, “To reach California’s ambitious climate and energy goals, we must push past status-quo thinking to get the most out of each construction investment.” He added, “This extends to not only residential construction, but also commercial construction and renovation of State buildings. To get the high level of performance we need from our buildings, each project must apply the most up-to-date clean technologies and practices, taking care to achieve long-lasting, quality installation.”

Potential Challenges to 100% Clean Energy

The law is pushing California to meet 50% of its energy needs to clean energy by 2025 and 60% by 2030, before finally achieving the 100% by 2045. However, it can be a challenge to the state as, during bad weather, where the solar power may not be sufficient, and wind power is inconsistent, gas power may be the only option to meet the energy demand.

The solution that could potentially solve the problem is to develop a smarter electricity grid and reliable high-capacity storage systems. Both, however, may require a higher budget from the government.

Walters Wholesale can Help

If you are about to construct your new home and you want to comply to the new law, planning out the entire structure should be highly prioritized. One factor that you need to look at is the lighting controls. If you need assistance, rest assured that Walters Wholesale’s team of professionals can help you with code application, sales and programming of lighting controls. We use energy-efficient products from renowned brands such as Lutron, Acuity, Eaton, Wattstopper and more. Send us an email at


Tags:  Ca; California; Net Zero; Energy; Electricity;
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