SAN FRANCISCO, June 8, 2015 - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) have joined California industry leaders to launch a New Residential Zero Net Energy Action Plan designed to establish a robust and self-sustaining market so that all new homes are zero net energy (ZNE) beginning in 2020. The new Action Plan was developed from input and extensive engagement with home builders, trade associations, California utilities, engineers, and architects throughout the state. 

“Zero Net Energy has been a vision for California for nearly 10 years, and with this industry supported Action Plan, we are now ready to make that vision a reality with feasible, market driven concepts to transform the new residential housing market,” said CPUC Commissioner Carla J. Peterman.  “Zero Net Energy is an innovative and achievable goal that will help California meet its climate change goals and Governor Brown’s goals for reduction of energy use in buildings.”

ZNE homes are high performing, very efficient houses that have renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, so that over a year, the home produces as much energy as it uses. The Action Plan addresses building demand and awareness of ZNE homes; training and education for the industry; creating the right tools to build homes; ensuring affordability and accessibility to homeowners; understanding impacts and creating solutions to deliver renewable energy effectively; and aligning and coordinating state and local government efforts.

“California has been a clean energy leader for decades,” said California Energy Commission Commissioner Andrew McAllister, who is the Energy Commission’s lead on energy efficiency. “Zero Net Energy solutions are technically feasible, and the market is developing the talent and expertise to implement them seamlessly and cost-effectively. This Plan helps to accelerate that process and achieve the scale we need to meet California’s energy and environmental goals.” 

Houses represent 32 percent of all energy consumed in California and energy constitutes a substantial expense for many homeowners, on average $1,500 annually and much more in hotter and colder climates. Moving toward ZNE will help homeowners better manage energy costs and become more energy independent, and at the same time help the state take a big bite out of overall energy consumption. 

The New Residential Zero Net Energy Action Plan was developed through a collaborative 18-month period and represents the work of more than 150 stakeholders in residential building, architecture, finance, clean energy, technology, and various state agencies. The Action Plan lays out a path to implement California’s Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan for the new residential sector, published in 2008, which identified ZNE as one of the Big Bold Energy Efficiency Strategies (BBEES). Altogether, the Strategic Plan’s BBEES will save an estimated 2,056 megawatts (MWs), avoiding the need for four new 500 MW power plants.  The Action Plan identifies five key areas of focus, specific actions, and a timelines to achieve the goal that all new homes become ZNE beginning in 2020 in California’s Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan.

The CPUC will host a public New Zero Net Energy Residential Action Plan Workshop on June 9, 2015, from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. at the CPUC’s headquarters at 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. The morning session will provide an overview of the plan and feature speakers from Meritage Homes, the CPUC, California Energy Commission, and ZNE design and engineering professionals. The afternoon will focus on implementation priorities. For more information and to download the New Residential Zero Net Energy Action Plan, please visit the Plan’s website at www.CaliforniaZNEHomes.com orwww.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/energy+efficiency.