That’s what the state’s Building Industry Association (CBIA) fears, as the" target="_blank">California Energy Commission (CEC) begins work on code revisions with the goal of mandating zero net-energy performance in new homes by 2020. CBIA’s technical director Robert Raymer explains why.

Action Items

1 Added costs to a new home related to energy code changes had always been justified by utility bill reductions over 30 years. But those savings are harder to achieve as three updates over the past eight years made standards 50 percent more stringent.

2 The 2013 and 2016 updates are expected to include mandates that would make the state energy code for each year 15 percent tougher. CEC is also said to be contemplating voluntary elements that municipalities could impose, with greenhouse emissions restrictions that would make each standard 30 percent to 35 percent more stringent. That would throw the “cost-effectiveness” rationale out the window, says Raymer.

3 The consequences for home prices could be dramatic: CBIA calculates that getting to net zero would add $58,000 to the cost of a 2,400-square-foot house already in compliance with the 2008 standard.