Buildings green construction booming

Published on June 23rd, 2016 | by Joshua S Hill


New Construction Homes Moving Towards Net Zero, California Leads The Way

June 23rd, 2016 by  

More and more, people are looking for new construction homes to have energy-saving features, and California is leading the way, by requiring all new homes to be built to net zero energy standards by 2020.

In an effort to help homebuilders continue to develop net zero homes, US solar company SunPower has launched SunPower Up — a new program that will combine customer segmented sales and marketing strategies for builders that it hopes will help homebuilders meet the growing need and desire for net zero new construction homes.

“Through our innovative SunPower Up program, we’ll continue to help homebuilders cost-effectively meet stringent energy codes and higher demand for net-zero energy design,” said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, business units. “Homebuyers and homebuilders today understand the return on investment that an energy efficient home delivers, and we look forward to helping both meet their sustainability goals with solar from SunPower.”

Launched this week at PCBC, the largest homebuilding tradeshow representing the US west coast, SunPower Up will also provide homebuilders with the company’s SunPower Equinox solar solution, which can deliver 70% more energy over 25 years with 70% fewer visible parts.

SunPower Up will be particularly important in California, whose state energy code, Title 24, requires all new homes to be built to net-zero energy standards by 2020. SunPower hopes its new offering will help homebuilders keep their construction costs down while ensuring that net zero standards are met and new energy is generated from clean sources. SunPower has also recommitted to California’s New Solar Homes Partnership program which offers assistance to homebuilders constructing energy-efficient, solar-powered homes through June 1, 2018.

“For the last five years, we have offered SunPower solar as a standard feature in many KB Home communities,” said Jacob Atalla, KB Home, vice president, sustainability initiatives, a long-time SunPower partner. “KB Home is being proactive in meeting the state’s new energy codes, and SunPower’s understanding of the homebuilding industry combined with their reliable, high-efficiency solar solutions offer one of the most cost-effective ways for us to accomplish this, while also delivering valuable savings to our homeowners.”

The race for net zero new construction homes is only going to continue, with 47 states and municipalities throughout the US adopting the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code.

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

  • Brunel

    What we need is the emergency services to be connected to Google.

    So that if there is a fire in my neighbour’s house and I am sleeping with double glazed windows – I will not be able to hear the fire truck.

    But my Android phone will start ringing louder and louder to alert me that my neighbour’s house is on fire – so I should get the hell out of mine.

  • neroden

    This is only freaking *35 years* after the book describing the standards for superinsulated *retrofits* was published in 1981; standards for superinsulated new builds are even *older*. And the standards haven’t changed significantly!

    So, anyway, good news, extremely overdue.

    • jeffhre

      You and I can sit down and write standards and specs anytime – it took a lot more to get them incorporated into Title 24 and approved as legislation, in the face of BIA opposition, with many more states in follow on mode.

  • joshua

    I assume this article is sponsored by SunPower? It would seam title 24 is the real news here, yet almost nothing is devoted to the topic of the largest state in the Union requiring new homes to be net zero.

    • neroden

      Yeah, where’s the discussion and analysis of the actual *news item*? The SunPower ad isn’t actually directly relevant to it. Zach?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Were the article sponsored it would be cleared indicated.

      • joshua

        I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the article feels like a bait and switch from the headline and first paragraph to everything else.

        • jeffhre

          Companies like SunPower and KB home are showing this can be done. There will be no “this is way too hard” lobbying resulting in taking back your leased net zero home and crushing it!

    • jeffhre

      IIRC, title 24 net zero provisions were approved in 2013. News from 2013?

      Sunpower, PCBC and KB home are supporting it (Title 24 – Thank you again Sym) in hopes of hitting the ground running in response to the 2020 rules implementations.

  • Armchair Hydrogeologist

    I don’t like the switch at the plug. This is problematic and better addressed through other means. Much of the “phantom load” is X cap reactive load and not real loss as long as one has a draining IC instead of resistors. Mandating new appliances have no pure resistive drain for the X caps is much more cost effective. A switch at the plug is going to fill up the electric boxes with more volume and cause box fill issues.

    Every switch is another thing that can arc, and break. You’ll have 50mOhm of contact resistance too… and that will burn when the appliance is on.

    Some ideas are junk.

  • sault

    Bold but hopefully an effective policy choice. This will bring down the costs of major energy efficiency improvements just like Germany’s deployment of renewables kick-started the massive boom we are seeing today.

    Some of the biggest benefits I can see are the usual gains from economies of scale and competitors innovating to undercut one another. In addition, it is a lot easier and cheaper to install things like ground-source heat pumps if they are incorporated into the original structure design and installed before the foundation is even poured.

    And technologies like this work even better if they’re pooled between many houses / units. What if a whole block of houses has their own ground source heat exchange loop, lowering the all-in cost per house? Or what if each group of 4 adjacent houses shares a central battery bank instead of having to do 4 separate installs in each house? Apartments / condos could pool even more units since they’re closer together, lowering voltage drop from apartment to battery.

    • Freddy D

      Definitely an effective policy choice. The ROI on the up charge for super insulated building envelope is typically 10 to 30% for new construction . Try getting that with a savings account anywhere. Money super well spent. Then, once the building envelope is good, the energy consumption of the building drops by well over 50%, some cases 80%. Then the need for expensive geothermal heat pumps and things just simply disappears.

      Builders historically have had little interest in this old and effective technology but by making it mainstream they will build awareness and figure out that buyers can qualify for bigger loans.

      • neroden

        80% heating/cooling use reduction is *typical* for a well done superinsulated build compared to a typical poorly-insulated junk construction.

        • Frank

          Also getting the roof right for both active and passive solar is a lot easier before you build it, than after.

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