This article was posted on Friday, Mar 01, 2019

If you believe building code mandates always end up costing you more money, you’ve got a pleasant surprise coming with California’s new solar requirements for multi-family homes.

Starting January 1, 2020, all new residential buildings in the state under three stories tall must include solar panels. New updates to Title 24 of the state’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards were approved in May as part of California’s effort to achieve net-zero-energy. This means new homes must produce more energy than they use by 2020; new commercial buildings must become net-zero by 2030.

Multifamily properties will see even more changes in 2019.  AB 802, which will take effect in June, requires all California multi-family building owners to disclose their properties’ energy usage to reveal their level of Title 24 compliance. Leveraging solar energy will be a critical component in compliance strategies.

While that initially may sound like an expensive proposition, there is a solution, a trio has partnered and developed a turn-key solution that meets the state’s requirements without adding to your construction budget. In fact, you may end up saving money while increasing your project’s net operating income for years to come.

The trio partnership includes a financial service, carport manufacturer/installer, and virtual metering systems company. They have launched a “Powering Title 24” program. Unique in the solar industry, “Powering Title 24” is a new program that combines solar carports, virtual net-metering software and tax-enabled financing to help apartment builders and owners convert Title 24 mandates into long-term benefits.

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Rather than building standard shade structures, the trio partnership will install solar carports that help protect your tenants’ most valuable possessions – their cars – while generating clean energy to reduce their utility bills and creating a new revenue stream for you. Research has shown that constructing buildings with more efficient systems in place can lead to higher revenues, longer leases, and significant construction cost savings

Partnership Powers New Projects

Whether you’re a builder, property owner or lender, “Powering Title 24” converts the potential headache of California’s new solar mandate into a long-term benefit for everyone. Once the solar carport system is installed, there are technical challenges to making the most of it. Until recently, solar power generated for multi-family buildings in California could only be used in common areas, such as lights in a hallway or lobby. And because solar panels often generate more power than is needed during the day, a billing mechanism called net metering sells unused solar power back to the local utility.

Now, however, the state has approved using “virtual” net metering at multi-family properties, allowing individual tenants to capture benefits both from the solar power generated on-site and from the credits of selling excess power back to the utility. In addition, California legislators in 2015 approved AB 1236 requiring municipalities with fewer than 200,000 residents to create expedited permitting processes for electric vehicle charging stations. The Electric Power Research Institute has found that 80% of all EV charging takes place at home. Although more than one-third of California’s homes are in multi-unit dwellings, less than 5% of home-based EV charging occurs in residential complexes. Solar canopies will change that.

The energy monitoring database that collects tenant usage information through sub-metering keeping track of each tenant’s solar usage, generate a solar usage charge to add to the tenant’s rent bill, and monitors the system’s overall performance. Additionally, adding solar boosts property values up to two and a half times the cost of the installation. Solar’s ongoing revenue stream appeals to lenders, too, because the net operating income from solar increases a property’s overall revenue stream.

Solar projects can be scaled up or down to fit each property’s needs, or as Title 24 rules become clearer. However, including solar now future-proofs a building against increasing government (and tenant) demand for renewable energy.

Terri Mierkey is the Marketing Manager at Baja Carports.  For more information please call (925) 229-0732, email [email protected] or visit