For Immediate Release: September 9, 2015
Media Contact: Amanda Pasricha Beck - 916-654-4989


Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings to Improve with Passage of Action Plan
Energy Commission also approves energy efficiency and transportation loans

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission today adopted a roadmap to reach Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.'s goal to double building efficiency savings in California by 2030. The roadmap, called the Existing Buildings Energy Efficiency Action Plan, is designed to achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals, and will help consumers save money and enjoy more comfortable homes through energy efficiency.

Commercial and residential buildings account for nearly 70 percent of California's electricity consumption and 55 percent of its natural gas consumption. California has approximately 600,000 commercial buildings, 9 million single-family homes and 4 million multi-family units. An estimated 50 percent of existing buildings in California were built before California Building Energy Efficiency Standards were established in 1978. Doubling the rate of energy savings from existing building efficiency improvement projects would result in lower total building energy use in 2030 than in 2014, despite population and economic growth, and is equivalent to a 20 percent reduction in usage compared to projected 2030 levels.

The Action Plan provides a comprehensive framework centered on five goals, each with a series of strategies for achievement. A key component of the Action Plan is easy access to energy-use data for the public, industry, and policymakers. Another principal strategy is making efficiency project costs and savings available. The plan fosters dissemination of information that should spur investments to make the state's existing buildings more energy efficient.

Energy efficiency can save homeowners money and make buildings more comfortable. The Action Plan proposes to create a new statewide benchmarking and disclosure program, and it encourages local government innovation and better energy codes for existing buildings. Benchmarking, for instance, helps building owners understand how much energy buildings use compared to other similar buildings and how much money could be saved through energy-efficient upgrades, such as heating, cooling and lighting.

Implementation of the Action Plan is expected to accelerate growth of energy efficiency markets, more effectively target and deliver building upgrade services, improve quality of occupant and investor decisions, and vastly improve the performance of California's existing buildings. The push for energy efficiency also is expected to deliver substantial energy savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions, contributing to the collective goal of reducing the impacts of climate change while improving the resilience of the state's built environment and economy.

A draft plan was released in March and revisions were made to include stakeholder input and public comments. To view video comments in English and Spanish by Commissioner Andrew McAllister, who is the Energy Commission's lead on energy efficiency, visit the Energy Commission's blog.

Other actions

The Energy Commission approved a $3 million grant through its Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program to CALSTART Inc. to build and demonstrate four fuel-cell shuttle buses to serve economically distressed and air quality-challenged communities in Los Angeles and the Coachella Valley.

The Energy Commission also approved loans for energy efficiency upgrades through the Energy Conservation Assistance Act, a zero or low interest loan program providing funds to public entities. The city of Eureka received a nearly $1.3 million, 1 percent interest loan to replace an old gas powered digester with an energy-efficient system at the city's Elk River Wastewater Treatment Plant. The project is estimated to save $89,000 in utility costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 367 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. Durham Unified School District received a zero-percent interest loan for $2 million to install a solar photovoltaic system. The 575-kilowatt solar project is estimated to save the district $175,288 in utility costs per year.

The Energy Commission also approved a one-year extension of the Dec. 15 deadline to commence construction of the Palen Solar Power Project. The proposed power plant was licensed on Dec. 15, 2010. The extension allows the project owner the opportunity to seek approval of a new, yet to be filed, major amendment.

Details on these and other projects approved by the Energy Commission are available on the business meeting agenda.

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About the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The agency was established by the California Legislature through the Warren-Alquist Act in 1974. It has seven core responsibilities: advancing state energy policy, encouraging energy efficiency, certifying thermal power plants, investing in energy innovation, developing renewable energy, transforming transportation and preparing for energy emergencies.

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