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California Becomes First State to Require Solar on New Homes
The California Building Standards Commission unanimously confirmed the standards during a vote on Wednesday, The Mercury News reported.
Commissioner Kent Sasaki described the new policy as "historic" and a model for the rest of the nation to follow.
"These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country," he said, according to The Mercury News. "[It's] the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels."
The mandate—which was originally approved by the state's energy commission in May—applies to all houses, condos and apartment buildings up to three stories tall that obtain building permits after Jan. 1, 2020. An exception will apply for homes that are shaded by trees or buildings that have a roof too small to accommodate solar panels.
The new policy could add an estimated $10,000 to the building a single-family home. However, that cost is expected to be offset through reduced monthly energy costs over a solar system's lifespan, commissioners noted.
Drew Bohan, executive director of the energy commission, said during Wednesday's session that a homeowner will save $19,000 over the course of a 30-year mortgage by having solar panels, NPR reported.
"With extreme weather events becoming more frequent, there is even greater need for homes that are efficient, reliable and resilient," Bohan added.
California has 24.3 gigawatts of solar PV capacity and is the country's undisputed solar champion, with roughly five-times the capacity of second-ranked North Carolina. Approximately 6 million homes in the Golden State are supplied by solar energy.
The world's fifth largest economy has one of toughest clean energy mandates. In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that requires 100 percent of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2045, making it the second state after Hawaii to set such a mandate.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jason Bittel
It's that time of year again: Right now, monarch butterflies are taking wing in the mountains of northwestern Mexico and starting to flap their way across the United States.
At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.
To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.
On Friday, Seal Rescue Ireland released Sesame the seal into the ocean after five months of rehabilitation at the Seal Rescue Ireland facility. Watch the release on EcoWatch's Facebook.
By Jordan Davidson
Guinness is joining the fight against single use plastic. The brewer has seen enough hapless turtles and marine life suffering from the scourge of plastic.
People of all ages are spending more of their day looking at their phones, computers and television screens, but parents now have another reason for limiting how much screen time their children get — it could lead to behavioral problems.