What You Need To Know About The California Solar Mandate?
Building codes are not the most exciting read, but codes and mandates are important for building owners to know. Understanding mandates make it easier for you to protect your buildings and protect your investment. The 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards are designed to move California towards solar power without inconveniencing too many people. The main points you need to know about the new solar mandate are discussed below.
What You Need To Know About The California Solar Mandate
- Recouping money spent on solar installation has been time-consuming for building owners. While the process is not cheaper, it is less challenging. The CEC (California Energy Commission) estimates that the new construction of an up-to-code building will increase by $9,500. However, you will save $19,000 on energy and maintenance costs. In addition, if multiple buildings are constructed within the same neighborhood, the labor and transportation costs can be combined which will lower the per-unit installation cost for builders.
- Not all buildings are covered by the new solar mandate. Only multi-family homes fewer than three stories in height are included and industrial, commercial and high-rise residential buildings are not. New climate-zone specifics are being enforced which state that all common areas in multi-family buildings are not included in the sizing calculations. This will influence the energy usage that gets compensated.
- Multi-family developments and builders now need to consider solar installation on any new projects. There was never much incentive to do this before, but now owners can include solar power. This means installation and maintenance will need to be factored into rental prices and planning costs where they weren’t before. Owners should expect some resistance when it comes to renters not wanting to cover the increased costs with solar power, so they need to be creative when accounting for the costs to keep everyone happy.
- The ‘duck curve’ is a technique that charts energy usage throughout the day compared to energy generation. The potential for generation during the day always exceeds the demand and in the evening more energy is needed but not as much is produced. The new mandate includes compliance credit that will hopefully reduce the impact of this curve. Installing batteries during the day allows power to be stored during times of high generation, and this can be used later in the day when demand is higher than supply.
- Without regular maintenance, solar systems will lose functionality. This makes customer education important and the new code includes that it is now mandatory. An update to the building owner must now be provided as to how the system is operating. Additionally, the builders of these new solar-powered buildings must include warranty and maintenance costs in their plans.
- Flexibility regarding solar power is important because not all buildings are the same. Using community solar and not individual rooftop units or by having a single solar garden can reduce labor costs. Sadly, the tenants do not benefit from the net metering of this solar arrangement. Currently, there are also rules in place stating that if a roof cannot sustain solar panels for any reason, builders will have the option of tradeoffs and storage credit in place of installation.
- Local authorities have the ability to make codes more stringent, so when it comes to solar power installation, you need to check with local groups first. If they are able to demonstrate that their proposed changes to the code will reduce energy consumption, the CEC will allow their changes to go into effect. This may be very flexible, but it means that you need to verify all designs with local authorities to ensure your plan and designs are up to code.
The new mandate is important to be familiar with. There are more details available in the full 2018 California Solar Mandate code ad a full understanding of the new solar changes coming into place will be essential for your success.