New CEC Building Standards Mandate Installation of PV on All New Construction

The California Energy Commission (CEC) adopted new Building Standards mandating the installation of photovoltaic solar systems on all new construction in California. Effective January 1, 2020, the new Standards will increase the cost of constructing a new home by about $9,500. The 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards also update thermal envelope standards, residential and nonresidential ventilation requirements, and nonresidential lighting requirements.

The CEC estimates that the solar PV mandate will cost homeowners about $40/month on a typical 30 year mortgage or $14,400 over 30 years, though the expected life of a PV system is typically less, with about a 1.5% degradation each year, accordingly to NREL reports. The CEC also expects that the installed PV systems will save $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over 30 years and will save consumers $80 per month on heating, cooling and lighting bills during the life of the PV system.

The Building Standards do not include any new consumer protection mandates, so it may be up to the Legislature to consider new protections to protect against predatory practices, similar to the “Truth in Lending” disclosure mandates. It is also unclear how the new Standards may affect solar companies that have in the past “aggregated” PV systems.

If you have questions on the new Building Standards solar mandate or any aspect of California’s Title 24 Building Standards or Appliance Standards, you can contact Jeff Harris (jdh(at), Lynn Haug (lmh(at) or Brian Biering (bsb(at) via email or at (916) 447-2166.