The revisions to the California Energy Codes are now being enforced as of July 1, 2014.
Referred to as the “California 2013 Title 24 Part 6”
These new codes are now a part of the C.B.C., (California Building Code) 2013 Energy Codes.
Unfortunately the information contained in this revision is far too long winded to include in it’s entirety. But I’ll try to cover some of the most significant changes.
Most of the information covered here will pertain to residential low rise construction including additions and alterations.
Why California Needs Building Energy Efficiency Standards
Energy efficiency reduces energy costs, increases reliability and availability of electricity, improves building occupant comfort,
and reduces impacts to the environment making standards important and necessary for California’s energy future.
Source- California Energy Efficiency Standards for Building Compliance Manual.
Among other things, California’s State energy goals plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020
The State of California has many strategies to reach that goal also aimed at 2020 including:
Reducing energy consumption in existing homes by about 40%
Increasing renewable energy in our utilities’ power mix to 33% and almost tripling the amount of rooftop solar and other distributed power we have today.
Making sure all new homes produce as much energy as they consume (called Zero Net Energy)
Source- Energy Upgrade California’s website http://www.energyupgradeca.org/en/learn/california-state-energy-goals
Although I’m already seeing price increases across the board from Sub Contractors that have anything to do with the Home’s energy consumption, it’s important to note that the long term energy savings and health benefits from creating a healthier indoor environment should offset the extra up front expense .
The Sub-Contractors and Suppliers affected by the changes include Electricians, HVAC, Plumbers, Roofers, Window and Door manufacturers and suppliers, Insulation Contractors, and even Carpenters in some cases.
There are stringent new documentation submittal requirements that are now in effect that include Certificates of Installation, which are to be submitted upon the relative inspections and given to the homeowner after final inspection has passed.
A certificate of compliance must be submitted with the original building permit app. and documents.
Part of the conditions of the new codes require the contractor to provide all of the product specification documentation
as well as all maintenance requirements specified by the manufacturer for all of the installed products. This is also to be given to the homeowner after project completion.
There are 2 compliance options that may be chosen to meet the requirements.
They are “Prescriptive” or “Performance”
The prescriptive compliance is usually the easier of the 2 for meeting the guidelines. Although it is more straight forward and less flexible.
The Compliance method is more stringent for the most part, but allows you to have more options to meet the standards.
Regardless of which method you choose, there are some mandatory requirements that apply to both. And those are-
- Duct sealing in all climate zones (CZs) (Section
- Return duct design or fan power, airflow testing, and grill sizing requirements
(Residential HVAC Quality Installation Improvements). (Section150.0(m)13)
- Lighting – Improving and clarifying the mandatory lighting requirements for all residential buildings including kitchens, bathrooms, dining rooms, utility rooms, garages, hall ways, bedrooms, and outdoor lighting. (Section150.0(k)
- New luminaire efficacy levels in Table 150.0-B
- Hot water pipe insulation – Requires insulation on pipes ¾ inch and larger. (Section150.0(j)2Aii)
- Solar Ready Measure – 250 square feet of solar ready zone on single family roofs in subdivisions of 10 or more dwelling units. (Section150.0(r))
- Walls with 2×6 framing and larger must have at least R-19 insulation (Section 150.0(c)2).
- New mandatory U-factor of 0.58 for vertical fenestration products and skylights,
- New third party HERS verifications requirement for Ventilation for Indoor Air Quality,
ASHRAE 62.2 requirements, Section 150.0(o).
The most significant changes in the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards affecting residential buildings include the new requirements for high performance fenestration products. (i.e., window and door openings). As well as new requirements for lighting packages.
Although model codes have included duct-sealing requirements for years, enforcement has been spotty or nonexistent.
For example, a 2001 study of 80 new homes in Fort Collins, Colorado, found that the number of homes that complied with
code duct-tightness requirements was zero. Astonishingly, the average duct leakage in the studied homes was 75% of total system airflow.
The average duct leakage in today’s homes is found to be from 20-30%. That’s a huge energy loss and can also lead to other problems like condensation and mold in confined areas.
The new code calls for duct leakage testing where duct leakage cannot exceed 6%. Or 15% if the ducts are in a conditioned space.
Duct leaks are very common; in many homes, duct leaks are responsible for significant energy losses.
For ducts located in an unconditioned attic, any leaks in the supply system tend to depressurize a house, while return-system leaks tend to pressurize a house. Either condition can cause problems.
Duct leaks outside of a home’s thermal envelope waste more energy than duct leaks inside a home’s thermal envelope.
Even if ducts are located inside of a home’s thermal envelope, duct leaks can still connect to the outdoors.
For example, supply system leaks in a ceiling between the first and second floors of a two-story home can pressurize the joist bay,
forcing conditioned air outdoors through cracks in the rim joist area. It’s much easier to seal duct seams during new construction than in an existing house.
The insulation required on ducts has also been increased from R-4 to R-6.
To summarize; the new code requires extensive additional documentation submittal.
Third party verification of installation and performance standards. Higher rated window and doors for prevention of heating and cooling loss and solar heat gain.
More stringent lighting and switching requirements.
And advanced ventilation techniques to accommodate tighter building envelopes.
You’ll find a lot of information in the Residential Compliance Manual which can be found here on the California Energy Commission’s website.
Other sources include Energy Source Ace http://www.energycodeace.com/content/resources-fact-sheets
The International Code Council website http://www.ecodes.biz/ecodes_support/Free_Resources/2013California/13Building/13Building_main.html
Please feel free to leave your questions and comments below and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you might have or point you to the right source.