Santa Monica City Council Approves Ordinance Requiring all New Residential Construction to be Zero-Net Energy

March 29, 2017 9:45 PM

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Tonight, 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 of Santa Monica to be zero-net energy (ZNE). Santa Monica is the first city in the country to adopt a ZNE ordinance, leading California to ensure new construction meets the most energy-efficient, cost-effective standards in the industry. The new law goes into effect on May 1, 2017.

“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.”

Zero-net energy is a building industry term for projects that generate enough of their own energy from renewable sources to equal what they take from the power utility over the course of a year.

The first vote on the ordinance came in October 2016 and just last month the California Energy Commission approved it. In addition to ZNE for single family homes, the Santa Monica ordinance also requires non-residential construction be designed to use 10% less energy than required by the 2016 California Energy Code. 

“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.”

In 2008, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adopted California’s first Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, which presented a roadmap for all California buildings to be ZNE.

The roadmap committed California to requiring all new residential construction achieve ZNE by 2020 and all new commercial construction achieve ZNE by 2030. 

In October 2016, Assemblymember Richard Bloom shared, “Santa Monica’s new zero-net energy ordinance is a forward-thinking measure that will help California meet its statewide energy efficiency goals. This ordinance reflects the city’s leadership on local policymaking as well as its commitment to doing its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.”

The timing of the ordinance capitalizes on state momentum towards ZNE and market trends in the solar industry. With the cost of solar installation continuing to decrease (according to the California Solar Initiative, the Solar Energy Industries Association and observed recent installations in Santa Monica), Santa Monica residents and developers can combine cost-effective energy efficient design with affordable renewable energy to build ZNE homes. These new homes will contribute to the City’s robust long-range goals for energy and climate mitigation, including releasing zero carbon by 2050.

The City’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment is currently developing a robust suite of 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 (

California Public Utilities Commission (

California Building Standards Commission (



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Office of Sustainability and the Environment