Owners and developers of newly constructed single family buildings are seeing increases in construction costs related to the California Energy Code by about $7,000 to $9,000 per home. Approximately half of this added cost is related to mandatory solar photovoltaic installation. As Cities like Lancaster pass reach codes adding additional requirements to CA’s existing codes, first costs will continue to escalate. Now, more than ever, a thoughtful and collaborative approach to design and construction is required to help mitigate excessive design specifications that attempt to meet code.

Lancaster, located in the Antelope Valley west of the Mojave Desert, receives around 300 days of sunlight, thus making the California city an ideal area for solar photovoltaic generation. After January 1, 2014, new single family homes were required to have a minimum of 1 kWh of solar photovoltaic collectors. Four years later, the City of Lancaster’s Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Home Ordinance went into effect. The ZNE ordinance requires at least 2kWh of solar generation per newly constructed home.

Local utility companies are charging around 18 cents per kWh while the cost of solar is only around 10 cents per kWh, allowing the City and the residences to profit from the remainder. Taking advantage of this renewable energy source, the City of Lancaster has installed solar PV collectors on over six municipal facilities and 25 elementary schools. Lancaster is saving more than $250,000 in utility charges each year.

Lancaster has been at the forefront of the California solar movement while the 2019 Energy Code cycle followed in the city’s footsteps, mandating solar installation on new construction for residential buildings 3 stories or less. New construction projects throughout California submitting for plan check starting January 1st, 2020 must have designated solar on their construction plans.

This city has an aggressive yet achievable goal of being 100% solar dependent in just a few short years. So far, they are over 50% solar dependent and produce the most solar per resident in California. The future is green for California: it’s only a matter of time before Lancaster becomes a Zero Net Energy and Carbon Neutral community while other cities follow in their footsteps.

For more information on how to meet Energy Code requirements and to mitigate escalating costs, please contact Moe Fakih at VCA Green below.

Contributing Writer: Devin Green

Moe Fakih, Principal

714-363-4700 x 501