Tougher building codes for California’s energy efficiency

The state of California is going to begin imposing stronger building codes for developers and contractors over the course of the next year. Companies constructing houses will have to ensure that roofs can support the weight of solar panels, install thick windows that can let in sunlight while reducing the amount of air that is lost, and install whole-house fans that can cool down an entire building. These codes have been put into place to improve the state's energy efficiency.

The tougher codes are known as the 2013 Building Energy Efficient Standard from the California Energy Commission. The commission wants all homes to be 25 percent more efficient than the previous year, with a start date of July 1, 2014.

While regulators acknowledge these upgrades to the code could up the cost of any home by a few thousand dollars, homeowners will save at least three times that in energy costs over the course of three decades living in a house. The goal of the state is to have no buildings use more energy than they are producing by means of solar panels and energy saving features by the year 2020. Many contractors in the Central Valley of California are not concerned about the upcoming new codes because they meet or exceed current energy standards and continually upgrade their materials to focus on the future. Meeting the state's building codes is a matter of planning, not redesigning.

"The code is always in the back of our mind. We're already exceeding current code so clearly we're not in it to just meet code. We want to try and get to the future ahead of time and be comfortable with it already," Brandon De Young, vice president of operations at De Young Properties told The Fresno Bee.

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