The role of solar carports in implementing Title 24 mandates, a car-free in Oslo, eco-friendly insulation alternatives, builder using wellness software for healthier homes, and relaxed environmental compliance requirements for guaranteed worker wages and benefits
Solar Carports can Help with California’s Title 24 Mandates
Solar carports, virtual net-metering software, and tax-enabled financing can help apartment builders and owners meet California’s new Title 24 mandates. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, all new residential buildings in California under three stories tall must include solar panels. New homes must produce more energy than they use by 2020; new commercial buildings must become net-zero by 2030.
Multifamily properties will be required to disclose their properties’ energy usage to show their level of Title 24 compliance in June 2019. Solar energy will be a critical component in compliance strategies.
A new company called “Powering Title 24” is offering solar-enabled carports that it says provides substantial tax credits and accelerated depreciation benefits. The tax benefits, the company says, offset the construction costs of the carport, which provides a base for the racking system for the PV unit.
Oslo, Norway’s Downtown Goes Virtually Car-free
Oslo, Norway made its downtown practically car-free with notable positive results. The city converted parking spots to bike lanes and added plants, tiny parks, and benches. Cars were banned on some streets, discouraging driving in the downtown.
Without cars, mass transit is more efficient, air quality has improved, and the streets are full of people. In 2015, the government proposed banning cars completely downtown, but resistance from merchants and others produced the alternative strategy of removing parking spots.
A few spots have been converted into parking for disabled drivers or EV charging, and some streets allow delivery trucks for a couple of hours in the morning. Most drivers have to park in garages on the fringe of downtown, and traffic restrictions prompt drivers who don’t need to go through the city center to take a ring road around it.
Several Materials Offer Eco-Friendly Insulation Alternatives
A recent post at Inhabitat.com examines seven alternative materials for insulating homes that can be considered eco-friendly. The options include sheep’s wool, which has natural fire retardant qualities, and cotton from leftover jeans that is shredded and treated with a borate solution so it is not flammable.
Certain manufactured materials such as polystyrene are considered green because they help save energy when used as a spray foam or as rigid foam boards. Aerogel, which is about 90% percent air, does not let much heat pass through, so it too is an effective green insulation material.
Builder to Offer Wellness Software to Make Households Healthier
KB Homes will offer technology later this year that is intended to make households healthier. The software add-on, called Darwin, will be initially available to buyers in California, but will eventually be available nationwide.
Darwin is designed by New York-based technology startup Delos. The technology monitors and controls air quality and water filtration. Homeowners can also input their sleep schedule on the app to automatically adjust their lighting to mimic the sun’s rising and setting. Sensors also measure allergens and other harmful substances in the air and ramp up filtration systems if levels become excessive.
Proposed Calif. Regulation Would Relax Environmental Compliance for Guaranteed Worker Wages, Benefits
A proposed new regulation in California would ease some environmental compliance requirements if residential developers pay workers a guaranteed wage and other benefits. Single-family and small apartment building developers would pay construction workers a rate less than the union prevailing wage but higher than the average private-industry rate. They would also provide apprenticeship training and medical and retirement benefits.
In return, developers would be rewarded with an easier, quicker route through the California Environmental Quality Act process. The new regulation wouldn’t impact large commercial or multifamily projects.