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If you’re a builder, it’s hard to avoid the changing trends in renewable energy in the US. 

Not only is customer demand up, but policy initiatives are also on the rise at local, state, and national levels. 

This includes cutting carbon emissions. 

And the construction industry plays a significant role.


Because commercial and residential buildings contribute 40% of America’s carbon dioxide emissions.

So, to slow the pace of climate change and increase energy independence, many states have implemented mandates to transition to renewable energy sources. 

These include renewable portfolio standards (RPS) to encourage or require electricity providers to offer renewable energy options to their customers. 

Let’s dive in and look at eight facts every builder should know about renewable energy mandates by state.

1. The Number of Renewable Energy Mandates by State Is Increasing

In 1983, Iowa laid the groundwork for the other states and US territories when it first enacted a renewable energy policy. 

Fast-forward to 2021, and 30 states plus Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam have RPS policies in place.

While one US territory and seven states allowed their policies to expire, another 15 states, Washington, DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico, boosted their targets for renewable energies or expanded RPS policies within the past three years.

2. 10 States Set Targets for 100% Renewable Energy

Renewable energy mandates by state are shifting landscapes for you as a builder. 

Changes to these policies often alter the way you operate. 

As states increase their RPS standards, it may require you to adapt your business and design models to incorporate renewable energy infrastructure into your projects.

Thus far, most states have set their targets at 40% or more, and the US. 

The Virgin Islands and three states have targets of at least 50%. 

A total of 11 states and territories have established 100% renewable energy goals. 

They include:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Main
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, DC
  • Guam
  • Puerto Rico

These states and US territories aim to reach their goal by 2050, with some states shooting earlier.

3. RPS Standards Are Not the Same as Clean Energy Standards

It’s easy to confuse renewable energy mandates with clean energy standards.

But the two approaches are a bit different. 

While both methods increase energy independence and reduce emissions, the qualifying energy sources are not the same, though they may overlap.

A renewable energy source may produce some carbon emissions, as with biofuels.

And not all clean energy sources are renewable (nuclear, for example). 

However, some clean air policies roll renewable energy into them.

4. Renewable Portfolio Standard Requirements Vary by State

No two RPS policies are alike, making it more challenging for builders to keep up with state policies. 

Though the resources that qualify under renewable energy mandates by state can vary, most of them include:

  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Geothermal
  • Biomass

Some states include hydroelectricity as well.

Additionally, states differ in requiring utilities to switch to renewable energies or encourage it. 

In some places, the policies establish price caps to control consumer electricity costs as utility companies transition.

5. California’s Updated Building Codes Contain Solar Energy Requirements

As with most environmental standards, California is forging a new path that other states are likely to follow. 

In 2019, California passed legislation requiring most new residential construction up to three stories high to include rooftop solar panels.

The state has since updated its building codes to reflect one of the most ambitious renewable energy mandates. 

The new regulations impact both residential and commercial construction. 

When the policy takes effect this year, builders must include solar panels and battery storage on new commercial builds. 

Even if you don’t work in California, you may want to keep your eyes on the Golden State’s building codes, as you may see other states adopt similar guidelines in the future.

6. The Federal Government Offers Incentives for States

While the federal government hasn’t implemented a national renewable energy policy, Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) hopes to pass renewable energy standards. 

In the meantime, renewable energy mandates by state could get a boost with federal government incentives.

The US Department of Energy’s State Energy Program may encourage more states to increase renewable energy capacity. 

This program provides direct financial assistance in grants to help states design and implement renewable energy programs. 

The program was funded at $62.5 million for fiscal year 2021

For 2022, the administration requested $362.5 million to fund the program.

7. Even without Mandates, Renewables Are in Demand

State mandates are driving some of the growth in alternative energy sources. 

For the past 20 years, RPS policy targets contributed to around 50% of the increase in renewable energy. 

However, since 2019, state influence over renewable energy mandates has dropped to 29%.

Consumer demand increases as more people grow concerned about climate change, and that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. 

Millennials and Gen Z are especially engaged in climate change issues. 

As these younger generations buy homes, you can expect to see demand for renewable increase even more.

8. Builders Who Prepare for Renewable Energy Are Ahead of the Game

Government policies and consumer demand are both driving growth in renewable energies. 

As a builder, you can expect to see an increase in building requirements that follow renewable energy standards, no matter where you operate. 

If you prepare now for the changes that will become more widespread, you’ll be ahead of the game, with new markets opening up to you.

Unbound Solar® Can Help Builders Prepare for Renewable Energy Mandates by States

Unbound Solar® supports builders like you prepare for renewable energy mandates. 

We recognize the need for clean, renewable energy in all its forms, though, of course, we’re partial to solar power.

We work with builders who want to learn more about solar installations on residential and commercial properties. 

Our team is here to answer any questions you have and get you started with ­your first — or next — solar installation project.

Feel free to get in touch – we’re happy to help!

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