Sacramento, California - Updated building standards, designed to get more energy savings from new and existing residential and nonresidential buildings, took effect July 1 in California. The 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24) will lead to 25 percent less energy consumption for residential buildings and 30 percent savings for nonresidential buildings over 2008 Energy Standards.

"These new Title 24 standards will help California buildings function beautifully and economically. The most effective way to optimize building performance is during construction," said Commissioner Andrew McAllister who oversees the Energy Commission's energy efficiency division. "Standards are a foundational part of California's long-term goals for meeting our energy needs, conserving resources and protecting the environment."

The 2013 standards update codes for lighting, space heating and cooling, ventilation, and water heating. These standards add approximately $2,000 to the new residential building construction costs. Estimated energy savings to homeowners, however, is more than $6,000 over 30 years. In total, these standards are estimated to save 200 million gallons of water (equal to more than 6.5 million wash loads) and avoid 170,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

The significant changes to the Building and Standards code are the first update since California's energy agencies agreed upon a Zero-Net Energy goal: all new residential buildings by 2020 and new nonresidential buildings by 2030. The 2016 and 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards will move the state even closer to the Zero-Net Energy goal.

New standards call for:

  • Residential
    • 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

  • Nonresidential
    • 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

Standards for all types of buildings require "solar ready roofs" to accommodate future installations of solar photovoltaic panels. This is the first time photovoltaics are included as a compliance option.

To help the industry meet the 2013 standards, the Energy Commission developed public domain software to assist with compliance. The California Building Energy Code Compliance (CBECC) software is a free, open-source program that models residential and nonresidential buildings, giving businesses a better understanding of what is required to be in compliance. The CBECC platform provides more consistent simulation results, and facilitates compliance analysis within third-party building energy design tools. In addition to CBECC, there are three additional available vendor software programs to help designers, builders, contractors and others measure and evaluate results.

"The development, adoption and roll out of the 2013 Title 24 standards have been a major priority for the Energy Commission," McAllister continued. "They are a critical piece of any strategy for California to reach our emission reduction targets in 2020 and beyond."

California's first building energy efficiency standards went into effect in 1978. The standards are periodically updated to allow new energy efficient technologies and construction methods for consideration and incorporation. The standards will save energy, increase electricity supply reliability, increase indoor comfort, avoid the need to construct new power plants and preserve the natural environment.

To learn more about the 2013 Title 24, Part 6 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, please visit our website.