California Energy Commission Mandates New Buildings Must Have Solar & Storage

The Golden State currently has the most solar capacity installed in the country, along with an ambitious goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045. In keeping with this goal, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has updated the Building Energy Efficiency Standards to promote clean energy adoption statewide. As of January 1, 2023, the California Energy Code requires installing solar power and battery storage for new commercial builds.  

Here’s what you need to know about the new requirements, and how PowerFlex can help you fulfill them.  

Standards For New Commercial Buildings Have Changed 

According to California’s updated Building Energy Efficiency Standards, all newly-constructed commercial buildings (with very select exceptions) must have a solar photovoltaic (PV) array and a battery energy storage system (BESS). This requirement applies to: 

  • Hotels 
  • Office buildings 
  • Clinics 
  • Restaurants 
  • Medical buildings 
  • Retail centers 
  • Grocery stores 
  • Convention centers 
  • Schools 
  • Theaters 
  • Auditoriums 
  • Warehouses 

The requirement depends on several key facility and locational-based characteristics:  

  • Solar: The minimum required solar will depend on your building type, size, and CA climate zone 
  • Storage: The minimum required storage (energy and power) will depend both on your minimum required solar system size and a coefficient determined by your applicable CA climate zone.  

For example, a 175,000 sq ft single story big box retail store in Fresno, CA would be required to install ~500 kW-DC of solar and a 250 kW/2hr battery storage system* under the new rule. 

*battery storage system size estimated based on available kW/kWh configurations currently available 

If your new building falls into one of the categories above, it’s important to make sure that you’re factoring in the installation of a solar PV and energy storage system to meet the building standards. It may seem daunting to add this requirement on top of the already complicated construction process, but an experienced energy solutions provider can make the installation efficient and seamless.  

The state’s solar and storage requirements might be new, but pairing solar PV with a BESS is not. You’ll already find numerous successful solar-plus-storage installations operating throughout California, from San Diego to Sacramento. Here are a few examples of solar-plus-storage projects that PowerFlex has already completed in the state for commercial customers: 

Medline Industries 

Medline is one of the largest distributors of medical supplies in the country. They chose PowerFlex to complete roof-mounted solar systems at eight sites and counting, for a total of more than 20 megawatts (MW). At Medline’s Tracy, CA, facility, we installed a solar PV system along with a 444-kilowatt (kW) / 888-kilowatt-hour (kWh) BESS for additional cost savings and flexibility. 

Cubic Corporation 

PowerFlex worked with Cubic Corporation, a tech-based solutions provider for the transportation and defense industries, to install solar-plus-storage at their San Diego, location, as well as 61 Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. The solar system for Cubic totaled 960 kilowatts (kW), and the BESS was 280-kW / 539-kWh.  

The solar carport produces clean electricity during the day, and the battery storage extends the use of that energy into the evening hours to reduce the site’s overall utility energy consumption as well as lower costly demand charges. 

Cox Communications

The largest family-owned telecom company in the U.S., Cox partnered with PowerFlex for a solar-plus-storage installation at their San Diego facility. We paired a 480-kW solar PV system with a 560-kW / 1.4-MWh BESS for this project. 

Sam Attisha, Senior Vice President at Cox, had this to say about the landmark project: “This solar project will generate almost 20% of the building energy usage and move us closer to our company’s [sustainability] goals.” 

Additionally, PowerFlex customers can benefit from our proprietary software and hardware platform, PowerFlex X, to co-optimize their system performance for even greater cost savings. 

Energy Management Is Simple With PowerFlex X 

Under these new building standards, facility owners now have the responsibility to install, control, and monitor an energy system. Fortunately, PowerFlex X makes energy management easy and intuitive. 

PowerFlex X offers specialized software and hardware to intelligently control multiple energy assets (including, solar PV, storage, and electric vehicle charging).  

With PowerFlex Axcess, an online portal displaying a wealth of energy system information, a facility manager can monitor, troubleshoot, and run reports all in one place. The intuitive interface allows users to explore real-time energy information and make informed decisions about energy management. 

PowerFlex Cortex acts as the “brains” of PowerFlex X. Using intelligent algorithms, such as PowerFlex’s Adaptive Load Management®, PowerFlex Cortex optimizes energy assets to execute multiple cost-saving strategies. 

PowerFlex Nexus is the onsite hardware supporting PowerFlex X. Its low-profile enclosure houses the physical components that support an energy system’s computing, connectivity, communications, and metering. 

PowerFlex Is Your Energy Solutions Partner 

Solar power and energy storage is no longer a nice-to-have. With the new California Building Energy Efficiency Standards, it’s a must. An experienced energy provider can help commercial building owners and developers meet this requirement with ease. 

PowerFlex provides clean energy solutions, including solar PV, battery storage, and electric vehicle charging, to a wide range of commercial clients. Our turnkey project management and PowerFlex X platform eliminate the stress of bringing clean energy to new and existing facilities. 

Contact us to learn how we can help with California’s new Energy Code requirements. 

Contact Us Today!

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