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Zero Net Energy Ordinance

A small U.S. town hopes to become one of the world’s first net-zero cities.

| August/September 2017

  • A city ordinance in California requires solar panels on new homes.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/tl6781.

A small town in Southern California is setting a new standard for renewable energy. The city of Lancaster recently passed the Zero Net Energy Home Ordinance (ZNE), requiring builders to install solar panels on every new home. By harnessing energy from the abundant sunlight throughout the region, Lancaster hopes to become one of the world’s first net-zero cities.

These regulations will require new Lancaster homes to produce 2 watts of solar energy per square foot. While actual home energy consumption can vary, this benchmark is expected to cover the bulk of energy usage for the region. Homeowners who opt out of the program will be required to pay a mitigation fee equal to $1.40 per square foot of their home. The ZNE ordinance aims to create environmentally friendly dwellings that come close to a net-zero impact on the environment.

While feasibility studies have yet to show the overall impact of this ordinance, other cities will likely soon follow suit. California is planning to start a similar requirement for homebuilders, although it won’t go into effect until 2020.

The benefits of this ordinance for Lancaster homeowners is significant. Because the cost of the solar panels is added to the price of the house, buyers only need to pay marginally more on their mortgages to enjoy the cost-saving benefits of their panels right away, making green energy an easier choice than ever.

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