Added to the long list of state responses to climate change is a new law that requires California’s built environment—tens of millions of structures—to operate twice as efficiently by the year 2030, slashing consumption of electricity and natural gas to half their projected levels. That law, SB 350, took effect in January.
A different policy -- one that states a goal, not a law -- says that in 2020, only four years from now, new homes built in California should be super-efficient, producing energy as well as consuming it. These homes will help the state meet the new law's efficiency threshold.
But these new standards arrive against the backdrop of an affordable-housing crisis. Home prices in California already are more than twice the national average, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, and there is concern that the expense of energy upgrades will unduly burden the poor.