Could SLO’s tiny home plan derail zero net energy goal?

October 22, 2018

John Ewan


Climate change is the result of decisions and actions we make on how much of, and how we use, the world’s natural resources.

San Luis Obispo’s proposed Tiny House on Wheels ordinance, created and passed at the direction of the City Council on Oct. 10, blows a hole in San Luis Obispo’s Climate Action Plan and stated goal of creating a “net zero” energy future.

The Planning Staff and Commission did not address this goal, leaving energy efficiency entirely at the discretion of the tiny house on wheels’ builder, without any guidelines or goals stated. This would be a giant step backward in our commitment to attaining a “net zero” community and our city’s adopted Climate Action Plan.

The State of California has actively promoted energy efficiency for the built environment since 1978 through Title 24, part 6. Title 24 has been updated over the years to set the stage for our “net zero” built environment, with the 2019 update to fully embracing and promoting net zero homes. California’s energy standards are crucial to reducing Green House Gas emissions of the electricity and natural gas sectors, and to lowering the costs of energy to consumers.

Before the city moves forward with the acceptance of tiny houses on wheels as full-time residences in our city, there needs to be appropriate requirements that the structures be built to efficiency guidelines that, at the very least, reflect our current T-24 standards for all residential buildings.

Not requiring energy conservation features for tiny houses on wheels would be a rebuke of our city and state goals to build a “net zero” community. Providing housing that is costly to heat, cool, light and ignoring our Climate Action Plan, would be inconsistent, environmentally damaging, discriminatory and lazy.

John Ewan is a former San Luis Obispo councilman, a Title 24 residential energy analyst and the owner of Pacific Energy Company in San Luis Obispo.

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Let’s support climate change on the SLO city council, and dump the far-left radicals like Heidi ‘Highrise’ Harmon, Aaron ‘Clueless’ Gomez, and Carlyn Christianson.

These out-of-touch progressives refuse to engage in public debate, are sanctimonious, and do not care about the rest of us.  They attack our neighborhoods, attempt to ruin the historic downtown district, and fail to maintain our transportation infrastructure.  Enough is enough.

On Tuesday, November 6, vote to elect Keith Gurnee as SLO Mayor, and Mr. James Lopes to the SLO city council  Reject Heidi Harmon, Carlyn Christianson, and the failed SLO Progressives.

Mr. George Bailey

Give us a break, John!

Every job that’s created in SLO and isn’t accompanied be an affordable housing unit creates more greenhouse gasses than a tiny home will. That’s because almost every new employee in the city must commute into town from as far away as Santa Maria or San Miguel.

Why don’t you admit that the city’s Climate Action Plan and “net zero” goal are pure BS! That’s because they really ignore the thousands of people who are forced to commute into the city because the city refuses to provide enough affordable housing for its workforce.

The problem is the city keeps adding new jobs faster than housing, and that’s not going to change with a council bought and paid by the Chamber of Commerce. As for commuting, our commutes, even to Santa Maria, are piddly compared to commutes throughout California, so that’s a zombie argument.

Ricky, The issue is greenhouse gasses, not how far or bad local commutes are compared to those in LA or the Bay area. Commutes cause the most greenhouse gas locally and statewide. Reducing everyone’s commute will reduce greenhouse gasses more than making new homes more energy efficient.

Green house gases are produced by everything so there isn’t much of a choice to eliminate it. Green house gases are like smog and are controlled by the environment mostly the wind. Just look at Bakersfield and Pasadena where the smog blows from the LA Basin. If in fact this is a real problem it will have to be addressed globally. Trying to make SLO the fix it all isn’t going to work except be counter productive by putting layer after layer of global regulations on what is perceived to be a local problem.

John is spot on. Tiny Home are not RV’s and should follow the same constraints of any other living space.

That is half of the problem, using the word “home” they are trailers.

One very blaring issue with Mr Ewans assessment is the fact that 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions in San Luis Obispo come from transportation. It is by far the largest sector of emissions to tackle. Energy efficiency of a small number of tiny home ADU’s is not going to derail our ability to be a net-zero City. In order to put a tiny home ADU on your property the home has to be owner occupied. That only makes up 35% of our housing stock. Of that 35% not all will want to out a tiny home on their property or already have an ADU. Claiming that this type of dwelling is going to derail net-zero is simply not true. The sheer size of the dwellings make them more efficient compared to larger homes. Two much larger issues: Upgrading older homes to be more energy efficient and our biggest issue is going to be tackling our car culture. 50% of greenhouse gases come from transportation in San Luis Obispo. By far the largest emissions sector. Almost double the national average. Energy efficiency of homes is important, but not nearly as important vehicle use in our City. Even as we transition to electric vehicles that is going to have a larger draw on the energy grid. Which is fine as long as we are using renewable energy, which California has a glut of during the day. But we are still in need of better electricity storage as that transition ramps up. I am optimistic that it will come along with various other carbon free technologies.

Hence I will politely disagree with Mr. Ewans assessment.

“Energy efficiency of a small number of tiny home ADU’s ” The proposed tiny trailers are not ADU’s per se, they are trailers certified by the DMV and are not required to meet any energy standards unlike site built or manufactured homes that do have standards to meet.

” The sheer size of the dwellings make them more efficient compared to larger homes.” No, not true, a smaller space will take less energy to heat. This does not make it more efficient. What makes structures more efficient is insulation values, better windows and doors.

“Upgrading older homes to be more energy efficient” Already being done with remodels and new construction as that is the standard/building code. So lets make the home tight and efficient but put a electric space heater in the un-insulated trailer in the yard, that’s a step backwards.

So take someone disadvantaged, put them in a trailer and see the power bill they have to pay? Why when insulation is cheap.

Please stop trying to change the subject/distract attention to cars and transport, this is about housing and the quality of our housing stock.

Or perhaps you want people in tiny trailers to suffer more?

With due respect Aaron Gomez, you’re full of beans and seem clueless about what “net zero” means and how to get there. Your made up percentages and how you use them are amusing. On other hand, glad to see you read the only reliable place for information in town.