Updated Building Standards Aim to Improve Energy Efficiency in California

Changes to the Building and Standards code are the first update since California’s energy agencies agreed upon a Zero-Net Energy goal.

by Matt Williams / July 7, 2014

Updated building standards designed to get more energy savings from new and existing residential and nonresidential buildings took effect July 1 in California, the California Energy Commission (CEC) announced this week.

The 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24) update codes for lighting, space heating and cooling, ventilation and water heating. Officials estimate these standards will add approximately $2,000 to the construction costs of a new residential building, but estimated energy savings to homeowners over 30 years could exceed $6,000.
The 2013 standards will lead to 25 percent less energy consumption for residential buildings and 30 percent savings for nonresidential buildings over the 2008 standards, the Energy Commission said in a press release.
According to the announcement, the changes to the Building and Standards code are the first update since California’s energy agencies agreed upon a Zero-Net Energy goal for all new residential buildings by 2020 and new nonresidential buildings by 2030. (California’s first building energy efficiency standards went into effect in 1978.)

New standards call for:

  • Insulated hot water pipes to save water and energy, and cut the time it takes to get hot water
  • Improved window performance to reduce heat loss during winters and heat gain during summers
  • Whole house fans when appropriate, to reduce the need for air conditioning
  • Improved wall insulation to reduce heating and cooling loads in all climate zones
  • Mandatory duct sealing in all climate zones
  • Mandatory solar ready zone to facilitate future installation of solar systems
  • Recognizing photovoltaic compliance credit for the first time in the building standards
  • High performance windows that reduce heating and cooling loads in buildings year round
  • Efficient process equipment in grocery stores, commercial kitchens, data centers, laboratories, and parking garages
  • Advanced multi-level lighting controls and sensors to minimize the usage of electric lighting by taking advantage of available daylighting and demand response opportunities
  • Occupant Controlled Smart Thermostats allow for setting and maintaining a desired temperature and voluntarily participation in a utility’s demand response programs
  • Increased solar reflectance for low-sloped roof to reduce cooling load in summer time
  • Increased cooling tower energy efficiency and water savings by requiring drift eliminators and other water saving measures
  • The Energy Commission has developed public domain software to assist industry with compliance to the 2013 standards. The California Building Energy Code Compliance (CBECC) software is a free, open-source program that models residential and nonresidential buildings; the Energy Commission said there are three additional available vendor software programs to help designers, builders, contractors and others measure and evaluate results.
Learn more about the 2013 Title 24, Part 6 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, at the California Energy Commission
This story was originally published by TechWire.