Santa Monica Adopts World’s First Zero Net Energy Building Ordinance

Condensed from “City of Santa Monica News” 10-27–16

Santa Monica’s vote for a 2017 Zero Net Energy Ordinance is an update to its Green Building Ordinance, which is California’s first.  It affects single family homes.  There are also non-ZNE requirements that force multi-family and high rise structures to use between 10 and 15 percent less energy than the 2016 Title-24 standards.  The ordinance now goes to the California Energy Commission (CEC) for approval.

With this new ZNE ordinance, Santa Monica is the first city in  California to adopt a ZNE ordinance, leading the State to ensure new construction meets the most energy-efficient, cost-effective standards in the industry.santa-mon-e-plans

“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,” said Mayor Tony Vazquez.  “ZNE 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.”

A common definition of a Zero Net Energy building is one that consumes no more energy in a year than it produces by itself over the same time period.  This is considered by many to represent the achievement of “sustainability.”   

“This ordinance makes environmental and economic sense,” said Dean Kubani, Santa Monica’s Chief Sustainability Officer.  “With the price of utility power continuing to rise, ZNE homeowners will avoid those escalating costs while benefitting from local renewable power for all of their energy needs.”santa-mon-sustainable-logo

An increasing number of buildings across the country are demonstrating this level of performance using available renewables such as solar photovoltaics to generate electricity.  It is expected that an increased number of building codes will incorporate a ZNE section and it is possible that Santa Monica’s early example of a Zero Net Energy Ordinance will be adopted in many more jurisdictions.

—Bill Martin