Rebuilding better homes for Northern California wildfire survivors

After the devastation of the fires last October, most people in the affected areas are understandably eager to rebuild as quickly as possible.

At the same time, climate and clean energy advocates in the community would like to see those homes rebuilt using state-of-the-art technology that would provide a better experience for homeowners and have a much lower impact on the environment.

In the immediate aftermath of the fires, the question was: How could this be done without adding time and additional expense to the homeowners already struggling with a complex and burdensome process?

Enter Sonoma Clean Power (SCP). Rachel Kuykendall, a program manager at SCP, says that they really wanted to do something meaningful for residents right after the fires. They got input from multiple stakeholders in the community and went to many neighborhood block captain meetings to hear directly from the people that they wanted to serve.

They came up with a vision of rebuilding homes to a higher standard of energy efficiency that would be lower cost for the homeowners to operate, be more comfortable, and safer as the result of not needing natural gas for heating or cooking. They wanted to provide a financial incentive to customers to cover the incremental cost of exceeding current Title 24 efficiency standards, and also to go further by promoting “zero carbon” homes that have all services and appliances electrified (with no need for natural gas) as well as an incentive for solar combined with energy storage.

They quickly realized they would need partners to do this at scale, so they called up PG&E, which operates the existing California Advanced Homes incentive program, about working together. The early negotiations were complicated, but Kuykendall said that they kept at it, because both entities wanted to make it work.

Read more here: Rebuilding better homes for Northern California wildfire survivors