The commission estimates they would add an average $10,500 in construction costs for a single-family home but generate about $16,000 in energy savings. They are collectively expected to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions by 700,000 metric tons over three years, a level equal to taking 115,000 cars off the road, according to state officials.
About 117,000 new single-family homes and 48,000 multifamily units will be built in 2020, the commission estimates.
"We think it's another example of California policy preceding what will happen in other markets", Tom Werner, chief executive of San Jose-based solar company SunPower, said in an interview ahead of the decision.
While the vote was a big step forward, the proposed new standards will still have to go to the California Building Standards Commission for final consideration later this year.
The commission projects that more than 100,000 single-family homes and nearly 50,000 multi-family buildings will be built across the state in 2020.
After carefully considering this requirement, the Commission on energy of the state on Wednesday, may 9, approved it.
The rule will take effect in January 2020.
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The adoption of the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards will lead to around United States dollars 80 (EUR 67.4) of monthly savings on heating, cooling and lighting for residential homeowners, based on a 30-year mortgage, while homeowners will only see an additional USD 40 to monthly payments.
"We thank the Commissioners and their staff for working with the building industry during the past 18 months and adopting a set of cost-effective standards that ensures homebuyers will recoup their money over the life of the dwelling". In the event a building isn't suitable for a rooftop array, the standards require homes have access to community solar or offset energy usage through additional efficiency gains.
The requirement does include exceptions when solar panels aren't feasible - such as on a home shrouded in shade - or cost effective.
On the other hand, while advocates for the plan admit that the costs will drive more people out of the housing market, they insist the addition of solar power will end up saving homeowners in electric costs. That's more than double the cost of utility-scale solar systems, which range from 4.4 to 6.6 cents.
California has long led the nation's battle against climate change and has adopted tough regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
"The buildings that Californians buy and live in will operate very efficiently while generating their own clean energy", he added. Right now, roughly one in five new homes in the Golden State has rooftop solar panels.