For Immediate Release December 11, 2019

Commission also adopts Energy Efficiency Action Plan to provide roadmap to 2030

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California Energy Commission (CEC) approved six applications for local energy ordinances that exceed statewide requirements of the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards.

“There is a clear mandate to decarbonize our energy systems and our economy,” said Commissioner Andrew McAllister. “At the state level, we should partner with, learn from, and support local jurisdictions who develop innovative solutions to improve the energy performance of their communities.”

The ordinances focus on building decarbonization – the strategic lowering of climate-changing emissions from buildings – including five that move toward building electrification. Local ordinances approved include the following requirements: 

  • City of Menlo Park – New residential construction must use electric space and water heating, but may use gas cooking and fireplaces. New nonresidential construction must be all-electric and install solar generation. Allows for some exceptions, on a case-by-case basis.
  • Cities of San JoseSan Mateo, and Santa Monica; County of Marin – New buildings that include natural gas are required to be more energy efficient than all-electric buildings. 
  • City of West Hollywood – New buildings and major modifications must include either solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, or a vegetative roof, and larger buildings must have additional energy and water efficiency measures. 

A Legacy of Local Leadership

Since 1978, California has repeatedly updated statewide minimum building energy efficiency standards as required by state law. After each update, many local jurisdictions have taken advantage of unique authority that allows for the adoption of standards exceeding the state minimum. Historically, such local ordinances have served as a bellwether for statewide standards, providing a place to test market readiness, drive innovation, and bring down the cost of efficient building technologies. 

Adoption of local standards has gained momentum over time. The 2010 update to CalGREEN –the state’s standards for green buildings – sparked the adoption and approval of two dozen local ordinances between 2010 and 2011. However, this new wave of local standards with a focus on decarbonization is unprecedented in the state’s history, highlighting the ability and willingness of Californians to innovate and tackle global problems at a local level. 

The 2019 standards take effect January 1, 2020. Statewide standards focus on four key areas: smart residential photovoltaic systems, updated and cost effective insulation standards, residential and nonresidential ventilation requirements to ensure healthy indoor air quality, and nonresidential lighting updates to take advantage of the rapid improvement in LED lighting technology.

2019 California Energy Efficiency Action Plan

The CEC also approved the 2019 California Energy Efficiency Action Plan, which addresses building energy efficiency, efficiency in the industrial and agricultural sectors, barriers to energy efficiency for low-income and disadvantaged communities, and using efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in buildings. 

“As the 2019 California Energy Efficiency Action Plan reports, if we are to reach our aggressive goals of doubling efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the program structures through which California has historically encouraged efficiency will comprise only part of the solution,” writes McAllister in the report’s foreword. “Energy use must be both highly efficient and flexible to the maximum extent possible.”

In 2015, California lawmakers set an ambitious goal to achieve a statewide cumulative doubling of energy efficiency savings and demand reductions in electricity and natural gas end uses by January 1, 2030. The action plan findings show that improved financing options and availability, increased program participation, improved code compliance, and increased equipment turnover is necessary for California to meet its energy efficiency goals. 

The plan outlines the following recommendations:

  • Create a resource to leverage funding from multiple programs (local, state, and private market) and combine additional clean energy options (distributed-solar, battery storage, electric vehicles, demand flexibility)
  • Develop common data storage, visualization, and analytical tools for energy policy purposes across state agencies
  • Further develop energy efficiency as a resource for procurement purposes so it can compete alongside solar, wind, and other energy sources
  • Initiate supportive program designs such as pay-for-performance and tariff on-bill financing
  • Increase support for energy-efficiency workforce development and local compliance of energy standards
  • Grow the demand flexible technology market and work to decarbonize buildings

The action plan, developed through numerous workshops throughout the state and incorporating comments from other state agencies, companies, nonprofits and the public, will be updated every other year. 

More details are available in the CEC’s business meeting agenda.

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About the California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is leading the state to a 100 percent clean energy future. It has seven core responsibilities: developing renewable energy, transforming transportation, increasing energy efficiency, investing in energy innovation, advancing state energy policy, certifying thermal power plants, and preparing for energy emergencies.