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Energy Commissioner Discusses How Collaboration Is Key To Decarbonization

By Media Office Staff

Building energy efficiency standards have been vital in California’s march toward its clean energy and decarbonization goals. New buildings already perform at a very high level, but decarbonizing fully will require a strong emphasis on collaboration, said California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister.

During a keynote speech at the Sustainability Facilities Forum in mid-May in Sacramento, McAllister discussed the need for working with the marketplace, local governments, and others.

“We have an incredible innovation economy in California,” McAllister said. “Startups are creating new energy technologies, and as policy makers we need to enable those technologies and approaches to thrive. That doesn’t happen without the collaboration of state and local governments and private sector actors.”

McAllister said local governments are dealing with limited resources. The Energy Commission can help bridge some gaps by providing grants and loans. These funds can be used towards local projects, as well as local innovations that can be replicated in other regions.

Local jurisdictions that adopt stretch codes - requirements that are more stringent than the statewide building code – provide essential leadership, he said.

“Energy efficiency is happening at the local level,” McAllister continued. “Currently over 20 city and county ordinances push beyond the state energy code. They are expanding the set of solutions, and we learn from them.”

Through the standards process, the Energy Commission analyzes what pieces are cost effective to implement statewide, he said. The statewide building energy standards are updated every three years.

The 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards are the first in the nation to require solar photovoltaic systems with new homes. The 2019 Standards focused on four key areas: smart residential photovoltaic systems, updated thermal envelope standards (preventing heat transfer from the interior to exterior and vice versa), residential and nonresidential ventilation requirements, and nonresidential lighting requirements. These standards will take effect on January 1, 2020.

Development of the proposed 2022 Standards is in the early stage. That standards update will focus on multifamily housing and commercial properties, with a particular eye toward facilitating the construction of multifamily housing by clarifying and streamlining the applicable requirements.

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