With the new CalGreen standards released - State regulators with the California Energy Commission are expected to approve stringent energy efficiency requirements for new residential and commercial buildings. The new standards, which went into effect January 1, 2014, include a host of efforts designed to save energy, but the proposed standards also require new homes and commercial buildings to have "solar ready roofs".

Rooftop solar systems use photovoltaic solar panels to generate electricity. But their performance is affected by many factors, from the age of the roof to how it is situated -- ideally, it should face south. "Shading" is also an issue: Roofs should have clear, unobstructed access to the sun for most of the day. Attic vents, fans, skylights and chimneys can also influence how many solar panels a roof can hold. The new regulations update Building Energy Efficiency Standards contained in the California Code of Regulations, commonly known as Title 24. Home and building owners will not be required to install solar panels, but if they choose to do so, their roof will be ready. What??.....Basically our roof must be able to support a solar photovoltaic system.

Other standards for new homes include requiring whole-house fans, which use evening air to cool homes and attics and reduce the need for central air conditioning, and improved window performance to reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Commercial buildings will be asked to use advanced lighting controls to synchronize lighting with building occupancy, reducing the amount of electricity used. The Energy Commission says the new standards will add about $11 a month to the cost of a new home, but the various efficiency gains should reduce consumer utility bills by $27 a month.

California's first building energy efficiency standards went into effect in 1978 and have been regularly updated since then to take new technology into account. A new home or commercial building built to the 2013 standards will use about 25 percent less energy for lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation and water heating than one built to 2008 standards.