SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, March 28, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously voted to approve the second reading of an ordinance requiring all new single-family construction in the city to be zero-net energy (ZNE), according to a press release. The first vote on the ordinance occurred in October 2016 and was approved last month by the California Energy Commission. The new law will go into effect on May 1, 2017.

Santa Monica is the first city in the country to adopt a ZNE ordinance, ensuring that new construction meets the most energy-efficient and cost-efficient standards. According to the 2016 California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen), zero-net energy structures generate enough of their own energy from renewable sources, such as solar panels, to equal what they consume from the power utility over the course of a year. The new ordinance requires that non-residential construction be designed to use 10 percent less energy than required by the 2016 California Energy Code.

“We have ambitious yet attainable goals to be carbon neutral by 2050. ZNE buildings will be the standard not too long from now, but as on many environmental challenges, Santa Monica is leading the way starting with new residential construction,” said Mayor Ted Winterer. “This is a forward looking requirement that is low risk and high reward.”

In 2008, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adopted California’s first Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan. According to the plan, all new residential construction in the state is required to achieve ZNE by 2020, and all new commercial construction is to achieve ZNE by 2030.

According to the California Solar Initiative, the Solar Energy Industries Association, and recent installations in Santa Monica, the cost of solar installation is decreasing. Cost-effective energy efficient design and affordable renewable energy can be combined to build ZNE structures. The new homes will support Santa Monica’s long-term goals for energy and climate mitigation.

“This ordinance is an obvious environmental win-win, but it’s also completely attainable for homeowners and builders,” said Dean Kubani, the City’s Assistant Director of Public Works and Chief Sustainability Officer. “The building materials and strategies required to be ZNE are off the shelf and only constitute a minor construction cost premium. When you compare this with the rising costs of utility power, ZNE homeowners will save money in the long term and ensure their homes retain value.”

The City’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment is developing resources for the residential building community that will be available on the website soon. For more information about ZNE or Santa Monica’s municipal code, visit:

Office of Sustainability and the Environment at

California Public Utilities Commission at

California Building Standards Commission at