Wednesday, 13 February 2013

California goes green with new norms for energy efficiency

California is known for energy efficiency. Ever since the early 1970s, the state has been progressively taking steps in this direction. Having pioneered a number of energy efficiency norms, California is far from calling quits. From the time the state first revised standards to introduce energy efficiency, it has been coming up with new and innovative ways to reduce electricity and augment renewable energy sources. The state has brought out new standards for lighting, television and plug loads. These standards ensure energy saving, be it in household, commercial complexes or office buildings. Looks like the state never sleeps!

Programs, subsidies and norms

Even today, energy efficiency is the number one priority in California. California is known to be in the forefront for creating and upgrading its energy norms and utility-sector customer energy efficiency programs. Research says that California’s programs and energy efficiency policies have significantly impacted the per capita use of electricity. And the energy use has been constant in the past three decades. The efforts of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to channelize a share of public benefits funding to publicly-owned utilities (POUs) and investor -owned utilities (IOUs) have been a great boost in the implementation of energy efficient norms. The state also collects a Public Goods Charge (PGC) on the utility bills of the consumer. This norm is to help in funding the various energy efficiency programs in the state.

The green state goes greener

California has now come up with some latest regulations for energy efficiency. These new norms are designed to make buildings and homes more energy efficient.
  • Solar-ready roofs: From 2014, it will be mandatory for all new constructions to have solar-ready roofs, whether the occupants or home owners want it or not.
  • Hot water pipe installation: All new homes must have hot water pipe installation, a norm whose design requirements start as early and laying the foundation.
  • Professional HVAC installation: The proper installation of heating, ventilation and cooling systems will be certified by an inspector.
  • Sensor lighting systems: All new homes need to have sensor lighting systems to save electricity.
  • Windows: Windows and fans are a must as they help to maintain and control temperature.
Mixed feelings

The new norms have become a matter of concern for home builders as well as buyers. The latest standards will make the construction costlier, which would not suit everyone’s pocket. Builders are concerned about these increased construction cost as homeowners may not even want a solar roof, but will have to pay for one. The officials feel that these norms are necessary as the state has an obligation to fulfill in terms of energy efficiency. They argue that it is better to make it a norm now for all construction projects now rather than installing it later. Some buildings trying to retrofit the energy efficiency systems later and this could cause a lot of hassle and inconvenience. It is expected that the new norms will boost the state’s growing solar industry. Mandatory solar panels mean more demand for solar panels, and more demand means increased production. 

On the other hand, the American Roofing Manufacturing Association does not seem to see eye to eye with the officials. It claims that these new norms are far from practical and are based on "flawed data and poor science." Whether these standards are anybody’s favorite or not, these will stay, driving concerns in the minds of constructors and builders. While these new norms will increase the cost of construction, officials argue that it will prove to be very beneficial in the long run.

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