Solar Ready Roofs: California's New Homebuilding Standard


The California Energy Commission this week unanimously approved a new set of building guidelines that have some of the strongest energy efficiency standards in the nation. In addition to the more typical updated regulations regarding window insulation, lighting, and air-conditioning systems, the new guidelines will require all new residential and commercial buildings to have "solar ready roofs."

Just to be clear, the regulations don't require the installation of solar panels. However, under the new guidelines roofs should be better able to accommodate a solar power system. Ideally, part of an angled roof should face south, have as much access as possible to unobstructed sun for most of the day, and have skylights and chimneys that work around the system.

"This will be great for everybody who buys a house and wants to put solar on the roof," Commissioner Karen Douglas said. "Your roof must be able to support a solar photovoltaic system."

The standards are due to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

The new rules come under a 1978 law that has, the Los Angeles Times points out, "made California structures and appliances the nation's most efficient." The commission says that those standards -- which also include appliances such as televisions -- have saved Californians $66 billion on their energy bills.

The Sacramento Bee reports that the new standards got "grudging approval" from the homebuilding industry and commercial building owners," but they received "broad support from investor-owned utilities ... environmental groups, local government building inspection officials and high-tech businesses developing environmentally friendly building products."

See also:
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Green Living for Renters
7 Green Home Trends: From Baby Steps to Extreme Updates