California Launches Zero Net Energy Action Plan

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) joined California business leaders to launch an action plan designed to help commercial building owners take advantage of the latest technologies and financial incentives to reduce energy use to `net-zero.’

The Zero Net Energy Action Plan was developed through a collaborative
11-month period and represents the work of more than 150 stakeholders in
commercial building, architecture, finance, clean energy, technology,
and various state agencies.

The action plan identifies
specific actions, timelines, and "champions" to achieve time-specific
milestones in California’s Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan.

"This is an innovative action plan to transform the state’s commercial buildings into clean energy powered, energy-efficient structures by 2030," said CPUC Commissioner Dian M. Grueneich. "Zero net energy isn’t just a big, bold goal–it’s a reality today. By tapping into the innovation and entrepreneurialism that made California the largest builder of zero net energy buildings in the nation, this action plan will succeed."

Zero net energy (ZNE) buildings have a net energy consumption of zero over a typical year. On-site solar, wind, and other renewable energy resources generate the amount of energy used by the building. To date, California has more ZNE buildings than any other state in the nation. Technologies needed to achieve ZNE–including high performance lighting and distributed generation such as rooftop solar – are widely available and incentivized.

Buildings consume more electricity than any other sector in California. About five billion square feet of commercial building space accounts for 38 percent of the state’s power use and more than 25 percent of the state’s natural gas consumption.

The action plan lays out a path to implement
California’s Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan for the
commercial sector, published in 2008, which identified ZNE as one of the
Big Bold Energy Efficiency Strategies (BBEES).
Altogether, the long-term Strategic Plan’s BBEES will save an estimated 2,056 megagwatts (MW), avoiding the
need for four new 500-MW power plants. The four BBEES are:

  1. All new residential construction in California will be ZNE by 2020
  2. All new commercial construction in California will be ZNE by 2030
  3. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) will be upgraded to
    ensure that its energy performance is optimal for California’s climate
  4. All eligible low-income customers will be given the opportunity to
    participate in the low income energy efficiency program by 2020.

The ZNE Action Plan is available here.

In Related News…

Environmentalists were counting on big gains in the California State Assembly this summer, with a governor eager to burnish his green credentials in his final months in office. But by the time the legislative session ended at midnight Tuesday, those hopes had fizzled.

Read Los Angeles Times coverage at the link below.

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