The Tough-to-Ignore Impacts of Title 24

Title 24 (aka California building standards) is a state regulation that dictates the design and construction of buildings and their associated facilities and equipment in the state of California. All residential and non-residential buildings must comply with the code except hospitals, nursing homes, correctional centers, jails and prisons. Title 24 is one of 28 titles within the California Code of Regulations (CCR). Each of the 28 titles is based on a particular subject or state agency jurisdiction. Title 24 contains requirements for structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. The standards require measures for energy conservation, green design, construction and maintenance, fire and life safety, and accessibility.

COMM JR Blog T24 Image 2014 07All cities and counties must enforce this state regulation. The codes are updated every three years to take into account technological changes and to achieve certain outcomes such as an increase in energy efficiency. The 2010 code was updated, so the latest version is 2013 and just went into effect on July 1st 2014. The changes since the 2010 version increase the energy efficiency of homes by 25 percent and nonresidential buildings by 30 – more than any previous update to the standards.

According to the California Energy Commission, the agency responsible for update the code: “The 2013 standards will use 25% less energy for lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and water heating than the most recent standards. Additionally, the standards will save 200 million gallons of water per year (equal to more than 6.5 million wash loads) and avoid 170,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.” Since 1978, the California Energy Commission has saved Californians $66 billion in electricity and natural gas savings through energy efficient building and appliance standards, so the standards are definitely having a strong effect.

The biggest change to the code update is the new requirements for photo sensors, occupancy sensors and multi-level lighting controls, both indoors and out, making adaptive lighting the new standard in California. According to the California Energy Commission: “The non-residential standards alone will save the state 372 GWh (GigaWatt hours) every year. California’s Title 24 building standards (along with its Title 20 efficiency regulations for appliances such as lamps and portable luminaires) help the state meet its energy and climate goals as laid out in several important pieces of legislation including California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) and the Huffman Bill (AB 1109), which is aimed at reducing statewide lighting energy consumption well below 2007 levels by 2018.”

The California Energy Commission along with the California Public Utilities Commission is helping California reach its energy efficiency goals. The CPUC has called for a 60% to 80% statewide reduction in electrical lighting consumption by 2020, in its Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan. In addition, the CPUC has called for all new residential construction net-zero by 2020, and commercial construction net-zero by 2030. Lighting currently accounts for about 30 percent of California’s electricity use, so the standards set by these two agencies and the extensive use of lighting controls are critical to reducing energy use and greenhouse gases in our state.

Sierra Business Council’s Sierra Nevada Energy Watch staff is now out in the field helping customers understand and comply with the new Title 24 code. Great energy savings will be achieved through the new code and the SNEW team’s efforts.