The Santa Monica, CA, City Council last week approved an ordinance requiring new single-family homes built in the city to be net-zero energy based on the standards set forth in the 2016 California Green Building Standards Code. The ordinance also requires multifamily buildings to use 10% less energy than the 2016 California Energy Code requires.
Net-zero energy homes generate as much energy as they consume from the grid in a year, using renewable sources such as solar and wind power.
The California Energy Commission now must approve the ordinance, which would be implemented in 2017. Previously, the California Public Utilities Commission put forth a roadmap for all residential buildings in the state to be net-zero energy by 2020 and all commercial buildings to be so by 2030. Santa Monica is the first California city to adopt such an ordinance.
Located in water-scarce Southern California, Santa Monica is a champion of green building design and technology. In October, it announced plans for an ultra-green city services building, which has applied for certification through the stringent Living Building Challenge and will include onsite water collection, composting toilets and a net-zero energy status. In 2013, the city opened Tongva Park, which features a design inspired by the natural landscape and outfitted with native vegetation to prevent runoff.
A September 2016 report from real estate listing website Redfin said downtown Santa Monica was among the top 10 U.S. neighborhoods in 2015 for homes with green features, ranking No. 3 behind Villanova (Philadelphia) and the Villages of Irvine (Irvine, CA).
Santa Monica’s move is part of a continued push among municipalities and states toward carbon neutrality. But not everyone is keeping pace. In an update on its 2030 Commitment Initiative to reduce energy-use intensity, the American Institute of Architects noted that only 4% of projects achieved the 70% energy-savings goal by 2015, which was set to help the built environment attain carbon neutrality by 2030. According to the AIA, the average energy savings was instead 38%.
Meanwhile, the World Green Building Council launched its Advancing Net Zero initiative in June that aims for all new buildings and big renovation projects to be net-zero by 2030, and all buildings to be net-zero by 2050.