Making Net Zero Energy Homes in California
It’s amazing how quickly the renewable energy movement is spreading. Already, a number of cities have signed 100% green pledges, with different target dates. San Diego, for example, wants to generate all of its electricity from clean power sources by 2035. In fact, its Climate Action Plan is legally binding, which is unusual.

Then you have San Francisco, which recently mandated that all new buildings come equipped with solar photovoltaic (PV) technology installed.

But it looks like Santa Monica is taking the concept one step further. The city council voted last week to require all new single-family residences to be net zero energy homes.

What does that even mean – and why does it matter?

What Are Net Zero Energy Homes?

Net zero energy (sometimes known as zero net energy) describes any property that produces as much power as it consumes. So any home or commercial building with enough on-site solar, wind, or geothermal capacity could potentially qualify as a net zero energy property. In fact, it’s possible to become net positive energy, meaning you produce more power than you consume.

And this concept isn’t even limited to “buildings.”

With the right approach, entire cities can become net zero energy. You can extend the concept further than that by greening entire nations.

Like many other cities, Santa Monica has an ambitious renewable energy target. It hopes to become completely carbon neutral by 2050. And requiring new homes to be net zero energy is an important component of this long-term plan.

It’s a bold move. And Santa Monica is now the very first city in the state to pass such an ordinance.

According to Mayor Tony Vazquez,

“Santa Monica is proud to take a global lead in zero net energy building standards that put the state’s environmental policy to action. Council’s adoption of this new ordinance reflects our city’s continued commitment to the environment… [Net zero energy] construction, considered the gold standard for green buildings, is a major component that will help us reach our ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.”

We kind of wish that San Diego had been the first to pass a net zero energy law like this. But we’re also glad that Santa Monica has taken such an important step. This latest move could inject a lot of competition between our two regions.

And we hope that other cities follow suit. Green rivalries are a good thing for everyone. Local residents benefit from greater savings and economic development. And the entire planet benefits from cleaner air and water.