By Jennifer Eden
The City of Santa Monica is sticking to its guns when it comes to the environment and energy use, despite moves this week from the Trump Administration to veer away from conservation and environmental protection.
Tuesday evening saw Santa Monica City Council unanimously approve an ordinance that will require all new single-family construction in the City of Santa Monica to be zero-net energy (ZNE.)
“Being strong protectors of the environment is part of the Santa Monica value system,” Joel Cesare, Sustainable Building Advisor, Office of Sustainability and the Environment, told The Mirror. “We are fully committed to advancing our environmental goals because it’s good for our community and the planet. “
“We have ambitious yet attainable goals to be carbon neutral by 2050,” added Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer. “ZNE buildings will be the standard not too long from now, but as on many environmental challenges, Santa Monica is leading the way starting with new residential construction.”
In reality, the move will add approximately 1.5 – 3 percent to the cost of building the average new Santa Monica home, according to Cesare. “These costs are offset by the significant savings homeowners will realize on their energy bill,” he explained.
Zero-net energy means that buildings generate enough of their own energy from renewable sources to equal what they take from the power utility over the course of a year.
In addition to ZNE for single family homes, the Santa Monica ordinance also requires non-residential construction be designed to use 10 percent less energy than required by the 2016 California Energy Code.
“This ordinance is an obvious environmental win-win, but it’s also completely attainable for homeowners and builders,” said Dean Kubani, the City’s Assistant Director of Public Works and Chief Sustainability Officer. “The building materials and strategies required to be ZNE are off the shelf and only constitute a minor construction cost premium. When you compare this with the rising costs of utility power, ZNE homeowners will save money in the long term and ensure their homes retain value.”
A suite of resources will soon be released by the City to help the residential building community, with programs to educate, incentivize and encourage existing homeowners to upgrade their homes to ZNE also in the works. In the meantime, head to smgov.net/departments/ose/ for more information. The new law goes into effect May 1, 2017.