Drone Services and Related News

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The Nation Watches as California Mandates Solar Power

California has long pushed the envelope on energy and environmental policies.

Right now, people are abuzz with the California Energy Commission’s proposed requirements for the the state’s 2020 energy code, which includes mandates on solar energy generation for all new residential construction beginning in January 2020.

The ruling applies to most single-family homes as well as multifamily buildings up to three stories. Options to meet the mandate will include installing solar panels on individual homes or joining a community solar system.

The 2020 code will also require additional insulation and increased window and appliance efficiencies.

The California Building Standards Commission typically accepts energy commission recommendations without change.

The solar mandate requirement is being driven by California’s net zero energy goals. Other states and cities across the United States also are working toward net zero goals and may enact similar requirements.

California builders saw the writing on the wall with the mandate, and worked with the commission to maximize flexibility and minimize implementation costs.

“We knew this was going to pass,” said Bob Raymer, senior engineer and technical director at the California Building Industry Association (CBIA). “We decided we needed to get on this train and see it going down a more affordable track. And thanks to our good working relationship with the commission, we were able to keep costs down.”

One CBIA victory, he said, was a solar lease option. This will give home owners the choice to lease solar panels rather than buying them upfront.

“It will be some time before we find out whether mandating solar panels for homes in California is a good idea,” said Craig Drumheller, NAHB Assistant Vice President of Construction, Codes and Standards. “The high price for electricity and excellent solar resources throughout most of the state make California one of the better states for this experiment to take place. However, there is a concern that a large percentage of the homes with solar systems will not provide a positive cash flow for the home owner, especially outside of California and in unsubsidized environments.”

However, the new requirements are still likely to increase the price of a new home. And the banking and appraisal industries’ limited awareness of the value of green building practices and how they affect the “total cost of ownership” benefits may make it harder for buyers to secure mortgage loans for homes at the higher initial price, even though they will save on monthly utilities.

“Utility costs are less, but one problem is that lenders don’t recognize this,” said Mike Hodgson, a member of NAHB’s Sustainability and Green Building Subcommittee and president of ConSol, an energy-efficiency consulting firm in Stockton, Calif. “For buyers to be a better mortgage risk, we need to have the lenders recognize these savings.”

This involves housing stakeholders emphasizing to appraisers and mortgage underwriters that high-performance homes can save money over time. These conversations may lead to better assessments of high-performance features, more accurate appraisals, and additional financing mechanisms that reward spending upfront to save on long-term costs.

These appraisal efforts are particularly important in a state like California with such high housing costs. Building professionals are on high alert about any measure that can price people — especially newcomers — out of the market.

“Affordability is such a big factor in California, and it’s something we watch closely,” said Cassandra Cherry, a member of NAHB’s Sustainability and Green Building Subcommittee and marketing director at Danielian Associates, an architecture and design firm in Irvine, Calif. “While people are keen on incorporating green technologies, millennials are not necessarily willing to pay for those features in their homes.”

Raymer agreed, saying affordability often takes a back seat to other housing policies in California.

“We are happy with this outcome, but wish they [the commission] would have waited on the mandate,” said CBIA’s Raymer. “You can’t go a couple days without hearing how dire the housing situation is here.”

For additional information about national energy codes, contact Joel Martell, NAHB’s codes and standards program manager, and for NAHB high-performance building initiatives, contact Michelle Dusseau Diller.



First Responders

Recovery and Relief Operations

Drones are ideal for recovery operations in disasters. Equipped with InfraRed and 3-D imaging, they can help to quickly assess damage, on-site needs and survivors in need of help, evacuation or medical assistance.

Thermal CAM USA has such capabilities and licenced pilots to fly the emergencies when and where needed. Part 107 Certificaion.


 Permain Basin Area Foundation

Permain Basin Area Foundation

 The Bird's Eye View: Permian Basin Area Fouundation

The Bird's Eye View: Permian Basin Area Fouundation

Flight for the Foundation

The new Permian Basin Area Foundation approved a flight over their new Eco-friendly Leed facility that was also covered by Chanel 7 News. It is an amazing facility which we will feature here over the next few days.

Thermal Cam USA will be flying both Daylight and Thermal imaging on the new facility. The director will get a complete report on how well things were done. It is an impressive facility with glass doors and windows in the conference room that turn an opaque white at the touch of a switch just like in the movies. Very interesting and well laid out.