For Immediate Release: March 15, 2022
Los Angeles – State leaders helped kick off a new program from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to support the building of more energy-efficient, low-income housing.
The announcement was made on Friday at the new, all-electric Vista Ballona development in the Los Angeles Mar Vista neighborhood, which is the type of project the program hopes to encourage. The program offers $60 million in incentives to builders who construct innovative, energy-efficient and healthier housing for low-income Californians. Applications are being accepted until funds are fully distributed.
"This effort is an important first step towards helping bring healthier new homes to California that don't compromise the lungs of occupants with emissions from gas appliances," said California State Senator Henry Stern. "I am proud to have been part of creating this new program and look forward to furthering the conversation with my legislative colleagues this year to ensure we protect public health while we forge ahead on essential climate solutions."
The Building Initiative for Low-Emissions Development (BUILD) Program was developed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and expand access to affordable all-electric buildings to include those most vulnerable to pollution and climate change. The program was created by Senate Bill 1477, which Senator Stern authored. Buildings are a major contributor to California’s GHG emissions, emitting a quarter of the state’s GHG, according to the 2021 California Building Decarbonization Assessment.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2022–23 budget proposal builds on this effort and includes one of the most significant investments for building decarbonization in the country, a total of $922 million over two years.
“Prioritizing affordable, multi-family housing is one of the key pillars of California's decarbonization journey,” said CEC Commissioner J. Andrew McAllister. “Programs like BUILD are essential to moving the market on new climate solutions while ensuring all Californians benefit through targeted investments.”
Representatives from groups that sponsored SB 1477, such as the California Building Industry Association, and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which is the lead agency for the program, attended Friday’s event. The BUILD program design was developed by the CEC in collaboration with the CPUC, based on extensive stakeholder engagement and input.
Incentives are limited to $2 million per applicant. Applicants must be constructing new single- or multi-family homes in which electricity is the only fuel for space heating and cooling, water heating, cooking, and clothes drying. The program also requires the housing lower residents’ utility bills.
The program funds between $1,000 - $3,000 per bedroom. Incentives vary by building design and climate zone and are based on the estimated amount of GHG saved by opting for all-electric construction compared to a mixed-fuel development that might use natural gas for heating, for instance. Projects that further reduce GHG emissions with specific technologies—such as electric vehicle (EV) charging stations or appliances using refrigerants with low global warming potential—can qualify for additional reimbursement.
Applicants constructing their first all-electric, low-income multi-family building may be eligible for the New Adopter Design Award, which provides $100,000 to defray direct design costs such as architecture or engineering. The hope is to encourage developers to make all-electric a part of the design process.
To help builders and contractors navigate the challenges—from permitting and design to construction itself—the Association for Energy Affordability, Inc. will provide technical assistance. Builders of all-electric, low-income housing in the gas territories operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, Southern California Gas Company, and Southwest Gas Corporation are eligible, whether or not they receive BUILD awards. The inquiry form can be found online.
For program questions, contact BUILD@energy.ca.gov.
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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.