To boost energy savings for the state even more, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has begun the process of updating California’s building energy code known as Title 24. The new 2016 standards, which serve as minimum efficiency standards for new construction and major renovation, will include even more cost-effective efficiency measures that will save building and home owners thousands of dollars, conserve millions of gallons of water, and avoid tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
According to a recent Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) blog post, the updates will also help lay the groundwork for meeting California’s Zero Net Energy (ZNE) goals. ZNE is a state initiative that requires all newly constructed buildings and homes to produce as much energy as they consume — something they will achieve through a combination of energy efficiency measures and distributed renewable energy, such as efficient lighting and solar power. New residential construction will need to meet ZNE mandates by 2020 and non-residential by 2030.
What is Title 24?
Title 24 sets the requirements in California for everything related to a building’s energy use — from lighting to insulation. The standard was first adopted in 1977 and has delivered tremendous benefits over the past several decades, including saving Californians more than billions in reduced electricity bills while cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, reducing the need for new power plants, and cutting peak electricity demands. The standards have helped Californian keep per capita electricity use flat over the past three decades while the rest of the country saw per capita electricity use increase by 50%.
The last update to the standards in 2013 were implemented in July 2014, and are expected to result in 30% less energy consumption for non-residential and 25% less for residential buildings over the previous 2008 Energy Standards.
Expansion to Other States Being Considered
As part of the new updates, the CEC is proposing to make Title 24 equivalent to ASHRAE 90.1-2013, a national model code adopted by states other than California, in places where it has fallen behind. This includes updates to the requirements for:
- Indoor and outdoor lighting
- Non-residential envelope efficiency
- HVAC and water heating equipment efficiency
For residential, the Title 24 enhancements under consideration include:
- High performance walls
- High performance attics and ducts
- 100% high efficacy lighting
- Credit for photovoltaic systems
- Tankless water heaters
In total, the changes could save an estimated 195.3 gigawatt-hours in the first year of implementation, reducing emissions equivalent to those produced by 28,000 cars. According to the NRDC, though, the CEC has left some cost and energy savings on the table with these measures, and they can do more, particularly for non-residential buildings. Here are their comments.
Title 24 Commissioning Report Requirements
Another big change is that commissioning reports are now required by Title 24 for the installation of advanced lighting controls systems, and must be completed by a Certified Acceptance Test Technician.
To become certified, technicians and their employers must attest to their proficiency and understanding of the latest Title 24 standards through a state-approved program such as The California Advanced Lighting Controls Training Program (CALCTP). Becoming certified as an Acceptance Test Employer through CALCTP allows companies to send their technicians through the CALCTP course to become Certified Acceptance Test Technicians. Once complete, certified technicians are able to complete and submit the commissioning reports now required by Title 24 standards.
The CEC plans to finalize the updated standards by May 2015 and they will take effect in January 2017. For more detailed information on this, check out the NRDC blog post.