Mark Vogel Mark Vogel

In 2020, a new state policy will go into effect requiring solar installation on new construction residential homes. The solar mandate has its benefits, namely that it will help the state reach its net-zero energy goals, and because all builders are required to comply, it should keep costs down. For some developers, this won’t be new. Solar panels have become a common source of energy in homes. For those unfamiliar with solar, however, companies like PetersenDean Roofing & Solar are helping educated developers on the solar market and process.

“PetersenDean works with some of the largest homebuilders across the nation, so we will be working closely with our clients to help transition into the 2020 solar mandates,” Mark Vogel, president and COO of PetersenDean Roofing & Solar, builder division, tells GlobeSt.com.

Although they will help companies transition to this new regulation, most builders have developed internal programs since as early as 2007 because of an earlier solar rule. “California’s homebuilding industry has been actively engaged in providing solar power since 2007 as a component of the CEC’s mission to achieve net-zero by making homebuilding so efficient that “newly constructed buildings can be net-zero energy by 2020,’” says Vogel. “Although not required under this early policy, many of the larger builders—and some smaller ones—voluntarily adopted solar as both a way to improve energy efficiency and as a marketing advantage in the state’s increasingly competitive residential marketplace.”

This is particularly true in California, where solar energy has been common for more than a decade. “Builders today have access to an extensive resource of solar knowledge from fellow builders and the Building Industry Association, as well as state agencies such as the California Environmental Protection Agency, energy consultants and solar product providers,” adds Vogel.

While most builders have experience, it is smaller operators in particular that might struggle to comply with this new mandate. “Smaller builders may have challenges to overcome,” says Vogel. “While some smaller builders have already jumped on the solar bandwagon, those that have not could be behind the learning curve and should start now to acquire the necessary knowledge and expertise to fully understand the “nuts and bolts” of solar power systems.”

Vogel recommends hiring an energy consultant that can walk train builders about the process and give information on different solar products. Additionally, this new mandate could also impact labor. “Because California homebuilding has been a primary marketplace for solar products and installation, it has attracted its share of solar professionals and workers who so far have been able to keep up with the growing demand for skilled labor,” he says. “Nevertheless, it would be wise for builders to work closely on a continuing basis with product suppliers and installers to ensure they have the necessary inventory and skilled employees to complete projects now and into the future.

Finally, builders will also need to learn the verbiage to explain the products and their benefits to homebuyers. After all, this should be an amenity in the end. To manage and sell it, you’ll need a good and well-informed team. “Builders will also need to be prepared to articulate and communicate the benefits to homebuyers so they understand and appreciate the value of solar because they will have a lot of questions,” says Vogel. “Builders will most certainly work through these issues and we believe solar will open new doors of opportunity for the homebuilding industry and also create new demands for competition and market positioning. For those builders who are ready for the solar future, new avenues for growth and good work are on the horizon. Either by establishing in-house expertise in solar systems and technology or by aligning with outside solar consultants.”