California now requires all newly constructed homes and low-rise apartment buildings to be equipped with rooftop solar panels, following a new law that came into effect January 1.
It’s the first state in the U.S. to introduce such a regulation, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Under the new law, homes are also required to have better insulation and improved air filtration systems. And in some areas, local authorities have issued new mandates on the use of natural gas. So new homes in counties such as Berkeley, San Mateo, Menlo Park, San Jose, or Marin County in the San Francisco Bay Area will not be able to install gas appliances, unless they’re made more energy efficient.
The new rules are meant to help alleviate California’s greenhouse gas emissions, and only apply to new homes. At present, it’s thought that 26% of all greenhouse gas emissions in California come from residential homes.
Builders are complying with the new rules by either purchasing rooftop solar panels to install, or by leasing them from solar energy companies. Meanwhile, some developers are waiting for California’s state energy commission to approve fulfilling the solar requirement with community panels, wherein a collection of panels would be used to provide solar energy to blocks of homes.
According to the California Energy Commission, the new requirements will add around $9,500 to $13,500 to the cost of building a new home. However, homeowners will save up to $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over a 30-year period, the Commission claims.