The California Public Utilities Commission is taking an unprecedented long-range view toward energy efficiency to try and transform the market to make saving energy a way of life. On a 5-0 vote October 18, regulators approved commissioner Dian Grueneich\u2019s proposal setting efficiency and carbon reduction goals for new residential and commercial buildings. The ruling also requires the investor-owned utilities to jointly develop one statewide energy efficiency plan through 2020 with stakeholders from the public and private sectors. \u201cThis is probably the most important tool to fight global warming,\u201d said Grueneich. Mark Christian, legislative director for the American Institute of Architects, applauded the commission for setting stretch goals for new homes and commercial buildings in spite of cost and technology challenges, as well as entrenched industry thinking. \u201cThis is doable, and an important statement to make,\u201d he said. The CPUC does not regulate the building industry, but is using its clout to push for changes in that industry. It also is prodding investor-owned utilities to work with that sector, as well as advocate for tighter building codes and standards to slash energy consumption and the associated greenhouse gases from homes and commercial buildings (Circuit, Sept. 21, 2007). Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric are directed to integrate into their efficiency plans, their demand response, solar and, advanced metering programs. Grueneich noted that the investor-owned utilities efficiency programs over-relied on short-term lighting measures. Two years ago, half the energy savings were expected to come from lighting programs. Last year, 65 percent of the efficiency gains were supposed to come from this area. \u201cIt is not a well-balanced portfolio,\u201d Grueneich said, causing \u201cratepayers to pay more for savings that decay over time.\u201d The decision aims to meld the utilities long-term procurement plans with their efficiency programs. It largely subsumes the current three-year efficiency plan cycle. The upcoming efficiency \u201cplan must be specific enough to serve as a roadmap to meaningful action in the near term, while providing direction for future program design and development through 2020,\u201d states the ruling. Edison stated that the ruling \u201ccharts an effective course for a new generation of energy-efficiency that ensures California will continue to be the international leader in this vital area.\u201d Under the adopted ruling\u2019s goals, new California homes would be considered \u201czero net energy\u201d structures by 2020. New commercial buildings would reach that level of energy efficiency by 2030. Today, new homes are estimated to consume 2,900 MW of power and 500 million therms of natural gas. Along the way to achieving zero net energy use, the efficiency target by 2016 is expected to reduce that use by 500 MW and up to 200 million therms. Commercial buildings consume about one third of the state\u2019s energy. Use in new buildings is estimated to drop from 1,900 MW and 50 million therms to 950 MW and 25 million therms. The ruling also seeks to slash energy use from the air conditioning sector, which is responsible for 20 percent of peak demand, as well as demand from other heating and ventilation systems. Grueneich rejected the proposal to use a life-cycle analysis to evaluate, measure, and verify energy savings, as urged by the Division of Ratepayer Advocates and The Utility Reform Network. She decided to stick to the annual evaluations. Staff, however, was directed to conduct workshops to clarify the types of data and information needed to assess efficiency gains. The decision allocates 8 percent of the efficiency budgets to utility and CPUC managed measurement and verification studies and planning. At the outset, the CPUC will lead the effort to engage stakeholders from public utilities, local governments, the building and design industries, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency in the long-term efficiency plan development \u201cto ensure their participation in the process and collaboration.\u201d A new energy efficiency website will be created where plans, comments and scheduled meetings will be posted. The draft plan is due by next February. The CPUC expects to vote on a final statewide efficiency plan in October 2008.