Big PUC push for energy-efficient construction
David R. Baker, SF Chronicle, September 19, 2008
A plan adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday expands on an idea that has already become a guiding principal of the state's energy policy - that finding ways to use less electricity is cheaper than building power plants and will help cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Housing developments built according to the plan's guidelines would use far less energy than they do today. Almost all their power would come from their own solar panels, windmills, or small electrical generators. Under the plan, new residential developments in the state would need to be "zero net energy" by 2020. That means they would generate most of their own power and feed any excess to the state's electrical grid. The same standard would apply to commercial construction starting in 2030.
Changes in building standards would need to be approved by the California Energy Commission. But an energy commission spokeswoman on Thursday said her commission supports the plan.
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