California Green Builder In The News
Solar power to come in a couple years

Saturday, November 10, 2007 10:02 PM PST

By JONATHAN DALE, Staff Writer

Gary Ambach cannot impress enough how energy- and cost-efficient the California Green Builder Program is.

Imperial Irrigation District Energyís demand-side manager said the program -- the first solid attempt to bring solar energy to the Imperial Valley -- is "a win-win situation" for energy companies and consumers alike.

"The California Green Builder Program is a program to promote energy efficiency and green building in residential new construction," Ambach said.

Partnered with the Building Industry Association, Ambach said the green buildings -- which would be powered by solar panels -- promoted by the IID will be a lesson in conservation in every aspect of the building and operational stages of new homes.

The green buildings are being promoted as energy efficient homes that conserve water and wood, and lower the amount of construction waste piled up during the building process.

The city of Imperial as well as the county already have jumped on board the Green Builder ship with IID, Ambach said.

"The idea of a California Green Builder home is that it will use over 15-20 percent less electricity than a standard home thatís built to Title 24 standards," Ambach said. "In addition, it will use 20,000 gallons of water less per year than a standard non-green home."

Solar energy is an obvious form of renewable energy for the Imperial Valley, where the sun rarely ceases to shine.

"We really have no solar to speak of, but solar is the hot market right now," Imperial Valley Economic Development Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Tim Kelley said.

The prices of solar farms and panels are the only thing keeping it from becoming a real local source of energy.

"The economics are still not quite favorable yet," Ambach said.

"As the cost of solar generation comes down, the electricity prices will be going up, and itíll reach equilibrium," Kelley said.

The IID will even start offering incentives to offset the costs of converting a home to a renewable energy source such as solar by providing up to 80 percent of the costs in lower electricity bills.

Folks who buy a new home that has already been converted into a green building will automatically have lower electricity and water bills due to the energy efficiency and water conservation elements of the home, making the Green Builder Program a solid idea for Valley residents.

"A California Green Builder home is a good thing from an energy perspective, and the homeowner will see less costs going to utility bills," Ambach said. "It saves energy, and itís good for the Valley."

>> Staff Writer Jonathan Dale can be reached at 344-1221 or at jdale@ivpressonline.com