Spain, the new up-and-coming European country, has just passed a law requiring every new or newly renovated building to have solar power systems. For years, Spain has been an economic underdog in Europe, and hasn't had the economy or the regulatory will to pass stringent environmental regulations. Until last year, their building code hadn't been updated since the 1970s. "We have to make up the time we have lost," said Environment Minister Cristina Narbona.
All homes now have to have, at least, hot water solar systems and all new businesses have to generate solar electricity. Other regulations in the new building code include mandatory use of insulation, maintenance of heating and cooling systems and use of natural light. All together, these practices should decrease electricity use by up to 40%.Spain, which is both enjoying and loathing a gigantic boom in construction, is hoping to control some of that growth as well as mitigate its impacts with the new regulations. The construction lobby, of course, is furious, saying that building costs will go up over 10%. The government does not seem too unhappy about that, but cites it's own figures that say the costs of construction will be recouped by energy savings within a couple years.