Central Valley Leads California’s Green Homebuilding Education with A Path to Zero Net Energy Symposium!

Central Valley Leads California’s Green Homebuilding Education with A Path to Zero Net Energy Symposium!

(Left to right) Robert Raymer, senior engineer/technical director, California Building Industry Association, Tom Harvey, senior manager at Tesla Energy, Garth Torvestad, senior technical consultant, ConSol, Chelsea Petrenko, managing consultant, Opinion Dynamics, Brandon De Young, executive vice president, De Young Properties

The future of homebuilding and its alignment with California’s advanced energy goals took center stage at A Path to Zero Net Energy Symposium held at Fresno State earlier this month with a keynote address delivered by Commissioner Andrew McAllister of the California Energy Commission (CEC).The Symposium engaged university students from related fields, homebuilders, real estate agents, urban planners and government officials alike on everything from ZNE building science technology, policy updates and ZNE market value to decarbonization in California and advancements to California’s electrical grid.

“To reach California’s ambitious climate and energy goals, we must push past status quo thinking to get the most out of each construction investment,” said Commissioner McAllister, California Energy

Commission’s lead on energy efficiency and buildings. “This extends to not only residential construction, but also commercial construction and renovation of State buildings. To get the high level of performance we need from our buildings, each project must apply the most up-to-date clean technologies and practices, taking care to achieve long-lasting, quality installation.”

For a home to be considered ZNE, it must be exceptionally energy efficient and designed with the potential to produce – through renewable energy sources – as much clean energy as it consumes in a year.

Esteemed speaker and moderators:

(Left to right) Tom Harvey, senior manager at Tesla Energy, Chelsea Petrenko, managing consultant, Opinion Dynamics, Brandon De Young, executive vice president, De Young Properties, Garth Torvestad, senior technical consultant, Commissioner Andrew McAllister, California Energy Commission, Dr. Michelle Calvarese, professor and department chair, Department of Geography and City & Regional Planning, Fresno State, Brad Hyatt, P.E., LEED AP, Associate Professor and Department Chair, Department of Construction Management, Lyles College of Engineering, Fresno State, Dr. Andres Jauregui, associate professor and director, Gazarian Real Estate Center, Craig School of Business

The Symposium featured a keynote address delivered by Commissioner McAllister and an expert panel comprised of Robert Raymer, senior engineer/technical director, California Building Industry Association; Garth Torvestad, senior technical consultant, ConSol; Brandon De Young, executive vice president, De Young Properties; and Tom Harvey, senior manager, Tesla Energy. The panel discussion was moderated by Fresno State faculty; Dr. Michelle Calvarese, professor and department chair, Department of Geography and City & Regional Planning, College of Social Sciences; Brad Hyatt, P.E., LEED AP, associate professor and department chair, Department of Construction Management, Lyles College of Engineering; and Dr. Andres Jauregui, associate professor and director, Gazarian Real Estate Center, Craig School of Business.

“California is truly setting the standard for clean energy and the collaboration we discussed today between State regulation entities, public utilities, the homebuilding industry, educational institutions and technology companies is the synergy needed to meet these requirements and continue to serve the public and our communities in the best, most efficient way possible,” said De Young. “De Young Properties is proud of the role we have had in leading green building practices in California with our Zero Energy communities and education outreach.”

Impactful topics addressed were as follows:

Commissioner McAllister of the CEC delivered an informative keynote address that provided important insight on what the future holds for clean energy in California and the significance of ZNE education across all sectors. In his points, McAllister covered the history of the State’s clean energy goals and how the new CEC building codes provide a roadmap to achieve them, as well as the resources available to builders to help them achieve these new mandates.

Robert Raymer with the California Building Industry Association addressed California’s homebuilding

industry as a whole, covering everything from the CEC’s newly adopted residential building standards and solar mandate to residential construction design changes and the necessary workforce training to meet ZNE building science technology. Raymer also touched on the new wave of ZNE homes being constructed in a financially feasible manner for the consumer base and a growing understanding from the mortgage lending community of the market value of ZNE homes.

Garth Torvestad with ConSol discussed his company’s partnership with De Young Properties to build and study over 100 ZNE homes in Clovis, California, making up the two largest single-family ZNE subdivisions in the State. Torvestad explained the CEC’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) grant program supporting the projects, how attendees could follow up on future EPIC grant opportunities and why there is a strong focus on providing EPIC grant funds to the Central Valley region. Torvestad explained the various research components of the study and how each of them addresses different barriers to “scaling up” ZNE from one-offs and custom homes to production-scale. This includes work with a leading architect and his team to take a ground-up, design-based approach to energy, rather than looking to expensive equipment to improve efficiency after the design is complete. Torvestad introduced the ZNE topic by explaining the different definitions of ZNE, upcoming Title 24 Standards due to take effect in 2020 and what savvy builders should be doing to prepare for these changes.

Brandon De Young of De Young Properties addressed the challenges of building ZNE homes that are scalable and cost-effective to both the builder and consumer, the role of ZNE homes in the overall decarbonization in California and reasons why homebuilders should start building ZNE homes now.

Tom Harvey with Tesla Energy addressed the concept of battery storage for solar energy speaking specifically about their Powerwall home battery that can store energy to be utilized during peak consumption periods and can provide power to the home in the case of grid outages.

“Education and development of best practices in green building are key in creating real change in this industry,” said Hyatt. “The opportunity to bring this distinguished panel of experts together along with our keynote speaker for attendees today is keeping the Central Valley on track to continue to lead green building practices in California, and in turn, the nation who is watching our advancements.”

Symposium attendees concluded the day with a tour of De Young Zero Energy homes and the De Young SmartHome Experience Center highlighting a critical component of the public education needed on the benefits of ZNE construction both financially and environmentally. The De Young Zero Energy homes and SmartHome Experience Center are located at the De Young Leonard Welcome Center, 3945 Ramona Ave., Clovis, California 93619 and are open daily.


(Left to right) Chelsea Petrenko, managing consultant, Opinion Dynamics, Garth Torvestad, senior technical consultant, ConSol, Commissioner Andrew McAllister, California Energy Commission, Brandon De Young, executive vice president, De Young Properties, Tom Harvey, senior manager at Tesla Energy from inside the De Young SmartHome Experience Center.

To watch a portion of A Path to Zero Net Energy Symposium on Facebook Live, click here.

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