SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The Santa Monica City Council voted to approve an ordinance requiring all new single-family construction in the city of Santa Monica to be zero net energy (ZNE), believed to be the first ordinance of its kind. Zero net energy homes generate enough of their own energy from renewable sources to equal what they take from the power utility over the course of a year.

“Santa Monica is proud to take a global lead in zero net energy building standards that put the state’s environmental policy to action. Council’s adoption of this new ordinance reflects our city’s continued commitment to the environment,” said Mayor Tony Vazquez. “ZNE construction, considered the gold standard for green buildings, is a major component that will help us reach our ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.”

The ordinance now goes to the California Energy Commission (CEC) for approval.

“This ordinance makes environmental and economic sense,” said Dean Kubani, Santa Monica’s chief sustainability officer. “With the price of utility power continuing to rise, ZNE homeowners will avoid those escalating costs while benefitting from local renewable power for all of their energy needs.”

There are various definitions for ZNE buildings but Santa Monica is adopting the definition used in the 2016 California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen). According to CALGreen, a ZNE building is one where the value of energy produced on-site by renewable energy resources is equal to the value of the energy consumed annually by the building.

In 2008, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adopted California’s first Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, which presented a roadmap for all California buildings to be ZNE. The roadmap committed California to requiring all new residential construction achieve ZNE by 2020 and all new commercial construction achieve ZNE by 2030.

With its new ordinance, Santa Monica is the first city in California to adopt a ZNE ordinance, to ensure new construction meets the most energy-efficient, cost-effective standards in the industry.

“Santa Monica’s new zero-net energy ordinance is a forward-thinking measure that will help California meet its statewide energy efficiency goals,” said Assembly member Richard Bloom. “This ordinance reflects the city’s leadership on local policymaking as well as its commitment to doing its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.”

Santa Monica staff collaborated with Southern California Edison and consultant TRC Energy Services to analyze the cost-effectiveness of locally adopted standards that meet the CALGreen ZNE requirements.

The timing of the ordinance capitalizes on state momentum towards ZNE and market trends in the solar industry. With the cost of solar installation continuing to decrease (according to the California Solar Initiative, the Solar Energy Industries Association, and observed recent installations in Santa Monica), Santa Monica residents and developers can combine cost-effective energy efficient design with affordable renewable energy to build ZNE homes.

In addition to ZNE for single-family homes, the Santa Monica ordinance also requires nonresidential construction be designed to use 10 percent less energy than required by the 2016 California Energy Code.

For more information about Santa Monica’s municipal code or ZNE, visit the Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment, California Public Utilities Commission, or California Building Standards Commission.

Publication date: 11/17/2016

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