Ann V. Edminster, M.Arch, LEED AP (Author of Energy Free: Homes for a Small Planet)

Ready or not, by executive order, California homes have been mandated to achieve net-zero energy: new homes by 2020, existing homes by 2030. In the simplest terms, this means that a home will have to produce at least as much clean, renewable energy each year as the occupants of the home use in that year. While definition details and implementation specifics have yet to be worked out, California’s Public Utilities Commission and Energy Commission are working furiously to put the infrastructure in place to achieve this extremely ambitious goal.

Net-zero energy is also taking hold nationally and internationally, with help from the US DOE’s Builders Challenge, the US-Canada Net-Zero Energy Home Coalition, the international Passive House movement (along with its domestic adherents), and other initiatives in Europe and beyond.