California’s energy efficiency goals include Zero Net Energy (ZNE) in all 50% of all commercial buildings by 2030. Called “too aggressive” by the AB 758 Scoping Plan, meeting this target would require much higher levels of market adoption than are being realized today - across myriad systems and technologies in widely-varying building types. Preventing building owners from making good investment decisions is poor understanding of the complex incentive programs administered by the Investor Owned Utilities, California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Energy Commission. Finally, building owners often perceive that they can achieve better returns on other investments, especially since access to capital is limited and energy costs are a relatively low percentage of their operating budget.
Very large investments authorized by the California legislature, accompanied by private ventures, are designed to stimulate the commercial building market to achieve the mandates set by AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.
Further compounding this environment is the large variety of building contractors –pipefitters, sheet metal workers, carpenters, electricians etc. – addressing this market without a uniform set of standards across the trades. Manufacturers have been slow to adopt industry standards for equipment and systems, allowing this market to develop in an unstructured manner.
Municipalities have not achieved a favorable balance among policies, incentives, and permitting processes that would accelerate market growth.
This combination of very large funding streams, hard-to-achieve mandates, lack of structure, and general confusion creates a significant challenge to growth in this emerging market.