While energy efficiency technology may not always be inexpensive, it does not have to be a luxury only wealthy homeowners can enjoy. California policymakers are taking steps to make efficiency equally accessible to the state’s low-income residents.
The California Energy Commission has launched the Building Initiative for Low-Emissions Development (BUILD) program to expand access to affordable, all-electric buildings to the state’s most vulnerable populations.
The program launched in spring 2022 and was created by Senate Bill 1477, which was authored by California State Senator Henry Stern and signed into law in 2018.
BUILD is a residential building decarbonization program that provides incentives and technical assistance for advanced building design and the adoption of all-electric technologies in new, low-income homes. It provides up to $2 million in incentives to help reduce construction and long-term utility costs.
Incentives are divided into four components: The first targets the amount of greenhouse gases avoided. The second component is calculated based on building efficiency and is tied to percentages that exceed code requirements. The third is based on the amount of solar capacity that is installed. The fourth component is the “kicker incentive,” based on additional greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Applicants may also receive up to 300 hours of no-cost technical assistance to overcome design or construction barriers and to complete an incentive application.
Eligibility includes a variety of building types and occupancies, as well as new and existing construction. Buildings must be either single-family or multifamily low-income residential housing that are all-electric and have no hookups to the gas distribution grid. Buildings must also be located within the service territory of one of four gas utilities: Southern California Gas Co., Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric or the Southwest Gas Corp.
The program was launched at the new, all-electric Vista Ballona development in the Los Angeles Mar Vista neighborhood.