California passes leading national energy standards for new buildings

Sacramento BeeJune 1, 2012 

The California Energy Commission on Thursday approved what it called nation-leading efficiency standards for new homes and commercial buildings. Approved by a 4-0 vote, the upgraded standards include improved windows, insulation, lighting, air-conditioning systems and other features to reduce energy consumption in California homes and businesses by a projected 25 percent or more, compared with previous standards approved in 2008.

The amended standards are due to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, applying to new construction of houses and buildings. The standards also will apply to major building additions and retrofits.

"These standards are the strongest in the nation … giving us the most efficient buildings in the nation," said Commissioner Karen Douglas. "The package that the commission approved is the greatest savings increment that the commission has ever achieved in a standards update in over 30 years."

The new standards come as California's residential and commercial real estate markets are staggering to regain their footing after being steamrolled by the recession. The commission stressed that while the new standards will make houses and buildings more expensive to build, that will be overridden by benefits. The commission said the standards will increase the cost of building a new house by $2,290, on average, but will return more than $6,200 in energy savings over 30 years.

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