If you live or work in California, you’ve most likely heard the news that new homes built starting in 2020 must include solar panels. Here is everything you need to know about the new rules and how you can take advantage of it.
What is it?
Called CALGreen, it is “first-in-the-nation mandatory green building standards code” and states that the California Green Building Standards Code (CBSC) has the “authority to propose CALGreen standards for nonresidential structures that include, but are not limited to, new buildings or portions of new buildings, additions and alterations, and all occupancies where no other state agency has the authority to adopt green building standards applicable to those occupancies.”
This building code from the California Energy Commission (CEC) comes into effect in January 2020 and while it seems like a good idea in theory, many are arguing that there are better solutions out there than making sure every new home includes solar panels.
Who does this affect?
This affects anyone looking to build a single-family home or have a home built for themselves in 2020 in the state of California as well as home developers, roofers, and solar installers.
While you might be seeing articles everywhere stating that it will soon be mandatory for all new constructions in California to include a solar install on their roof, there are always exceptions.
Since not every area has ideal sun exposure for an efficient solar system, not all homes are required to include panels. New constructions can also abide by the new rules by connecting to a shared solar grid/solar farm built to serve multiple homes or neighborhoods.
As an installer, home developer or roofer, how do I stay ahead?
While homeowners and potential buyers have it relatively easy in the sense that all they have to do is pick the right company for their build, you’ll need to find ways to stay ahead and capitalize on all the new demand.
The first thing you’ll want to consider, if you haven’t already is partnerships. As a home developer, you used to be responsible for the construction of the home up to the roof and rely on subcontractors for anything additional. Now, you’ll have to think past that and find people skilled in solar installations to work with who can incorporate a system design into your plans.
As a solar installer, you’ll want to get in touch with reputable roofing companies who know a thing or two about solar electricity systems and how they will sit on the roofs they install. Roofers, on the other hand, are likely already partnered with developers but should consider getting close to solar companies where they can get together to possibly offer package “roof and solar” deals to grab as many as the new potential customers as possible.
Using a solar quote software will also help to drastically cut down on time spent not selling and installing systems. Having all your materials, costs and financing options populate into a proposal at the click of a button, even from the sketching stage means you won’t have to spend more than a few minutes on a quote.
What are the positives about this change?
California has long been at the forefront of the transition over to renewables and this is just another step closer to the state’s goal of achieving 100% clean electric power by 2045.
Home developers can choose to bundle the price of the system into the total cost of the build or lease it to the home buyer on a monthly agreement allowing them to better serve people of different income levels.
Solar panels also tend to increase the value of any home they power, making houses that were built after this rule went into effect even more eye-catching to potential new buyers.
Another positive that can’t be ignored is the decrease in the use of non-renewable energy sources. As of 2017, California’s main source of non-renewable electricity was natural gas, accounting for 52% of all electricity used in the state. Imposing these new rules on home builders will likely cause that number to drop significantly due to the increase in solar electricity generated every year.
What are the negatives of this change?
While taking steps to go 100% renewable looks great on paper, there are still some issues that may make their way to the surface because of this new clean energy mandate.
One concern for California residents lies with the electric costs for everyone still using the grid. While people purchasing a brand new home equipped with a solar system will either pay nothing for their electricity or a fraction of their previous bills, that leaves it up to everyone who doesn’t benefit from solar to pick up the bill.
The reason for this is simple: the more people who opt out of traditionally generated power, the more the utility companies need to increase their prices to keep revenue coming in. People who are still on the grid, either because they don’t own a home or their home doesn’t have panels will end up having to pay more for the same power.
Another issue that this change will cause is the increase in the cost of building homes in California. While solar energy systems are estimated to save the average customer $19,000 over 30 years it also adds an estimated cost of about $8,400 to the total for the home construction. This could mean that a new home may no longer be an affordable or cost-effective purchase for those who may have been able to buy one before.
To make things even easier, Solargraf now allows users to upload their own image to design their system on. Since new constructions don’t have any imagery available through any mapping services like Google or Bing, you can choose to upload either drone imagery or blueprints to the software. Simply upload the image you would like to use, give Solargraf the measurement of one line and let the software do the rest!
Once you’ve got your system outlined, you can take advantage of the rest that Solargraf has to offer including shading analysis, infinite projects and proposals, and speedy permit orders. Solargraf allows you to manage all aspects of a solar install from design to execution all within our easy-to-use and intuitive platform.
While this new solar mandate brings many positives for California, it is also important to note the negatives and be informed on the best ways to navigate all these changes in a way that will help you jump ahead in 2020 and beyond. If you’d like to get more information on how Solargraf can help you navigate these new changes, please contact us for a demo tailored to your company’s needs.
Article by: Christine Hannivan for Solargraf.