President-elect Joe Biden's plan to upgrade the buildings sector and make it more energy efficient could be critical to help fight the effects of climate change, elected officials said Wednesday during a webinar hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council. Biden's Clean Energy Plan seeks to create 1 million jobs to upgrade 4 million buildings across the United States and weatherize 2 million homes, all within four years. The administration also plans to push legislation that would set new net-zero standards for all new commercial buildings for 2030.
The legislative package to address California’s housing shortage in 2021 will look a lot like it did this year. State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said she expects lawmakers to bring back at least half a dozen unsuccessful measures, including her own proposal to make it easier to split lots and convert homes into duplexes. Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, has reintroduced his “gentle density” measure that would allow cities to rezone residential parcels for apartment or condominium projects of up to 10 units without having to go through environmental reviews that can add years to the process. Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, introduced SB6, which would open properties zoned for office and commercial buildings to housing development, particularly in areas where the land has sat empty for years. Another Atkins bill, SB7, revives a proposal to renew and expand a shortened environmental review process for projects that would not increase greenhouse gas emissions.
Last week, the California Energy Commission (CEC) held its latest workshop on updating the state’s Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, which will set the energy baselines builders must adhere to in new construction from 2023 onward. The CEC workshop presented proposals that could boost electrification in high-rise residential and nonresidential buildings. But according to an October workshop presentation, the CEC appears set to retain two different baselines for low-rise residential buildings and single-family homes — one geared toward the use of natural gas appliances and one for all-electric construction. Final draft versions of the standards are expected in February, and the CEC is expected to approve them in July.
Facebook is designating $150 million of its $1 billion affordable housing commitment to build housing for the Bay Area’s lowest income residents, and a South Bay project is among the first recipients. The initial allocation will go to the First Community Housing project in San Jose for 123 affordable apartments, including extremely low-income units, the company said. Facebook also announced an investment in Factory_OS, a company that claims to build multifamily affordable housing 20% to 40% cheaper and 50% faster than traditional housing construction.
The University of California Merced has announced that it is the first public research university in the nation to achieve carbon neutrality. The university has reached its goal two years ahead of schedule. The campus actually achieved carbon neutrality in 2018, seven years before the UC System's goal to have all 10 campuses carbon neutral by 2025. However, the emissions verification and validation process takes time. UC Merced retained a third-party verifier to review and audit the campus inventories of greenhouse gas emissions specifically from onsite fossil fuel combustion and purchased electricity.