The Public Utilities Commission will conduct a public workshop on June 15 to discuss California’s policy goals relative to achieving “zero net energy” (ZNE) in all new commercial buildings by 2030. While there is still debate over the definition of “zero net energy,” at a minimum this policy goal will require almost all of a building’s energy supply to come from on-site sources. In addition to cost concerns, there are also serious physical design constraints which must be addressed, as was shown by a recent technical report commissioned by BOMA California.
That report analysis showed that a very energy-efficient 15-story commercial building in Oakland would still need nine acres of solar panels to cover its annual energy needs under such a policy. If that building were to use every inch of rooftop space for solar, that energy system would only generate enough power to cover 4% of the needed power supply.
We support the state working towards the goal of ZNE, but caution against adopting “stretch goal” mandates that knowingly cannot be reached. We are working with the state to consider other strategies in addition to ZNE, such as carbon-neutral buildings and neighborhoods, and increasing the overall supply of renewable energy at the source.
The workshop is scheduled for June 15 in San Francisco. Click here to read the state ZNE Action Plan, designed to identify the key actions required to achieve plan milestones, secure leaders for the steps to achieve these actions, and track and report on progress against the plan.
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