California Energy Commission mandates solar for new buildings from 2023

The California Energy Commission’s five-member panel voted unanimously yesterday to require solar panels and battery storage in new commercial buildings and certain multifamily residences beginning January 1, 2023.

Mandatory solar in California

The types of buildings that are included in the proposal are, according to the New York Times, “hotels, offices, medical offices and clinics, retail and grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and civic spaces like theaters, auditoriums, and convention centers.”

The proposal also encourages electric heat pump technology for space and water heating, the use of electric appliances, and the installation of EV chargers. In other words, it’s working to get buildings off natural gas and support electric car charging.

California’s Building Standards Commission also has to give its stamp of approval, and it’s expected to include the mandate in the overall building code revision in December. If approved, then that gives the construction industry a year to prepare for the solar and storage mandate.

In 2018, California mandated that new single-family homes and multi-family dwellings up to three stories high must include solar panels from January 1, 2020.

According to the California Energy Commission:

Homes and businesses use nearly 70% of California’s electricity and are responsible for a quarter of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the next 30 years, the 2022 Energy Code is estimated to provide $1.5 billion in consumer benefits and reduce 10 million metric tons of GHGs, equivalent to taking nearly 2.2 million cars off the road for a year. Expanded adoption of new energy-efficient technologies will help reduce costs of the technology over time.

Commissioner J. Andrew McAllister, the lead commissioner on energy efficiency at the California Energy Commission, said:

Buildings profoundly influence our health, environment, and economy. Into the future they will use less energy and emit less pollution while still being comfortable and healthy.

The 2022 Energy Code firmly pivots California’s buildings toward the clean, low-carbon technologies that are the bedrock on which our collective path forward will rest. This foundation will help the state meet its critical long-term climate and carbon neutrality goals.

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Photo: “Solar on Covina Walmart” by Walmart Corporate is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.