California Policy Corner: It's August and the legislature is back | U.S. Green Building Council
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See the latest in California policy news.

It’s mid-summer in beautiful California, but that hasn’t stopped our policy and advocacy work to advance USGBC’s mission. In last month’s update, I shared exciting news about climate policy, a new USGBC initiative to streamline LEED with CALGreen, and this year’s celebration of state policy leaders moving green building forward.

For the legislature, summer has come and gone

The legislature reconvened after a one-month recess on August 21, now moving fast and furious toward a final set of deadlines in early September. For the most part, our priority bills (listed in our June update) are still moving forward, with a favorable outlook.

The biggest focus for the next six weeks is likely to be finding solutions to the state’s housing crisis. With a flurry of constructive bills in the House and Senate, leadership is currently negotiating how to find the necessary funds and the most effective process to rapidly expand housing availability in the state. USGBC is working with the legislature to ensure that state money and any streamlining are wisely executed to prevent compromising state commitments to climate, efficiency and green building. (Learn more about the California housing crisis.)

The Senate President Pro Tempre’s 100 percent renewable energy bill, SB 100, will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations committee on August 30. The bill has drawn broad support from the environmental community, including from Hawaii policymakers who made the Aloha State the first in the country to commit to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 (see the Hawaii legislative update for more). You, too, can support this effort via the California League of Conservation Voters’ action tool.

Cap and trade past, present and future

In the wake of July’s successful extension to the cap-and-trade program, the governor and the legislature are working to decide how the Air Resources Board will allocate Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds (GGRF). Legislators are now submitting their key funding priorities to leadership. With roughly $1.4 billion to be allocated, there will be another big set of investments in clean transportation (including proposals to replace “dirty diesel”), efficient affordable housing and possibly green buildings.

We are supporting funding for the Low-Income Weatherization Program through the Department of Community Services and Development. Since its initial implementation in 2015, this program has been providing critical support for low-income households to access energy efficiency, rooftop solar and solar hot water.

In an effort to better unpack cap and trade for the green building community, we have launched an article series to take a closer look back at the program’s first several years. Read the recent article focused on the GGRF.

PG&E accelerates efficiency investments in existing buildings

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has rolled out its new On-Bill-Finance (OBF) program, which provides loans at 0 percent interest for energy efficiency projects. It offers up to $4 million in funding per customer, up to $100,000 per project for commercial buildings and $1 million for government buildings.

The OBF program leverages the Investor Confidence Project’s (ICP) Investor Ready Energy Efficiency™ certification process, the premier global underwriting standard for energy efficiency projects. The ICP system provides market-tested, open-source technical standards and allows PG&E to leverage an ICP credentialed provider, ARUP, for its quality assurance process.

GBCI now oversees ICP, and is working with other utilities around the world to help them leverage the ICP system’s benefits for their efficiency programs, including industry-tested best practices for energy efficiency underwriting; reduced costs to implement and maintain technical requirements; quicker processing of project reviews and program approvals; and access to ready-made networks of project developers, QA providers and investors.

See more recent California policy news