"Energy Efficiency is at the heart of energy affordability." Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation

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New Energy-Efficiency Standards Approved for New Homes, Commercial Buildings

PG&E applauded the California Energy Commission’s unanimous approval today (May 31) of energy-efficiency standards for new homes and commercial buildings, a move made to reduce energy costs, save consumers money and increase comfort.

The commission’s 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards are 25 percent more efficient than previous standards for residential construction and 30 percent better for nonresidential construction. The standards, which take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, offer builders better windows, insulation, lighting, ventilation systems and other features that reduce energy consumption in homes and businesses.

“PG&E is a strong supporter of codes and standards as a vital tool in helping California achieve its clean energy goals,” said Steve Malnight, vice president of customer energy solutions for PG&E. “The California Energy Commission’s work on building standards is integral to California’s long-standing leadership in energy efficiency. The building standards adopted today, which represent a balancing of many interests, are a cost-effective way to help customers save money on their energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Learn more about the California model for energy efficiency
Some improved measures in the standards for residential buildings include:

  • Solar-ready roofs to allow homeowners to add solar photovoltaic panels at a future date
  • More efficient windows to allow increased sunlight, while decreasing heat gain
  • Insulated hot water pipes, to save water and energy and reduce the time it takes to deliver hot water
  • Whole house fans to cool homes and attics with evening air reducing the need for air conditioning load
  • Air conditioner installation verification to insure efficient operation
  • For commercial buildings, some of the improved measures include:
  • High performance windows, sensors and controls that allow buildings to use “daylighting”
  • Efficient process equipment in supermarkets, computer data centers, commercial kitchens, laboratories and parking garages
  • Advanced lighting controls to synchronize light levels with daylight and building occupancy, and provide demand response capability
  • Solar-ready roofs to allow businesses to add solar photovoltaic panels at a future date
  • Cool roof technologies

On average, the new standards will increase the cost of constructing a new home by $2,290, but will return more than $6,200 in energy savings over 30 years, according to the California Energy Commission.  Based on a 30-year mortgage, the standards will add approximately $11 per month for the average home, but save consumers $27 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills.

Within the first year of implementation, the Commission says the standards are projected to add up to 3,500 new building industry jobs as well as saving millions of gallons of water per year.  After 30 years of implementing the standards, California will save nearly 14,000 megawatt hours or enough electricity to power 1.7 million homes and avoid the need to construct six new power plants.

“Improving the energy efficiency of buildings in which we will live and work will save Californians energy for decades,” said Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas. “These standards will help save consumers money on their utility bills, keep them comfortable in their homes, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through better, more efficient buildings.”

Two energy policy goals are driving the design of the current standards: The Loading Order, which directs that growing demand must be met first with cost-effective energy efficiency and next with renewable generation; and “Zero Net Energy” (ZNE) goals for new homes by 2020 and commercial buildings by 2030.  The ZNE goal means that new buildings must use a combination of improved efficiency and distributed renewable generation to meet 100 percent of their annual energy need.

This story originally appeared on pgecurrents.com.