Early Successes in Climate Fight Lead In to World’s First ZNE Ordinance

Santa Monica reaches 20 percent reduction for greenhouse gas emissions before voting in the world’s first ZNE building requirement, whose implementation begins in 2017

By Andrew Basmajian

It’s been a busy, accomplished, and progressive year in Santa Monica, Calif. In May, our City Council approved an ordinance requiring rooftop solar systems for all new construction in the City of Santa Monica—both residential and commercial. Then in summer, when other Californian cities relaxed their water conservation requirements, Santa Monica decided to maintain our current drought measures.

Progressive and aggressive environmental goals are nothing new in Santa Monica. In 2006, Santa Monica developed the 15×15 Climate Action Plan to reach the goal of reducing community greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2015. In September, the City announced that not only did it exceed its 15×15 Climate Action Plan by reaching reductions of 20 percent, with economic growth and while adding public services no less, but we were already beginning work on our plan for the next phase, which aims for carbon neutrality by mid-century.

So it should come as no surprise that the same City Council voted unanimously on October 25th to approve an ordinance requiring all new single-family construction in the City of Santa Monica to be zero-net energy (ZNE), the first of its kind in the world. Zero-net energy is a building industry term for projects that generate enough of their own energy from renewable sources to equal what they take from the power utility over the course of a year.