It’s been one month since the California Energy Commission (CEC) received approval from the California Building Standards Commission on proposed updates to Title 24, Part 6. The updates are set to take effect at the start of 2023 and will bring new improvements and compliance standards in heat pumps, homes, and solar throughout California. Builders, contractors, and other energy-industry stakeholders will have one year to prepare for the implemented changes.
What is Title 24?
It’s the specific building energy code standard for the state, called the California Building Standards Code. Created in 1978 by the California Building Standards Commission, Title 24 acts as a means for California to set progressive energy standards and goals. With climate change starting to have significant environmental impact, there has never been a more critical need for homes and business that are both energy efficient and energy reliable.
Title 24 compliance allows the state to create and manage building standards for energy efficiency to meet these goals. By setting building energy codes it ensures building constructions maintain a minimum level of energy efficiency. This helps deliver energy, reduce costs, and improve the environment. It’s estimated that over the last four decades Californians have saved more than $100 Billion by setting these energy standards for buildings and appliances. By setting efficiency standards, California’s per capita energy use has remained relatively flat since the early 1970s. The state’s economy grew by 80 percent over the same period, showing how critical these standards are to managing energy responsibly.
What’s Part 6?
It’s the part of Title 24 mandating that building energy code updates are presented every 3 years by the CEC to include new energy-efficient methods. The CEC spent the past two years meeting with over 50 energy industry stakeholder groups and held 43 public workshops in keeping the process completely transparent. They submitted updates to the California Building Standards Commission for review and approval, in a process is designed to ensure cost-effective updates that manage energy demand while advancing clean energy goals.
The CEC Acts as California’s energy policy agency. To address the energy crisis experienced in the 1970’s, California created the commission to improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution. Over 50 percent of single-family homes and apartment complexes in the state were built before adopted energy standards. The standards proposed by the CEC apply to not only new construction but upgrades to existing homes and business, as updating older buildings is critical to achieving clean energy goals.
The standards set by the CEC ensure buildings construction, design, and installation achieve better energy efficiency while preserving the environment. They also create and maintain energy-efficiency requirements for new buildings.
The CEC is mandated by the Warren-Alquist Act to periodically modify and improve building standards to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The CEC acts as the driving force behind California’s energy policy goals:
- Reduce energy usage and cost
- Reduce environmental impact of energy use and creation
- Ensure reliable and safe supply of energy
What is Title 24 Compliant?
New and more efficient technologies are being developed all the time, with many supported by funding from state programs that bring these energy innovations to markets and consumers.
For decades the focus has been on efficiency, but the 2019 Energy Code update changed things by requiring Solar PV on new homes (providing substantial greenhouse gas savings). The proposed 2022 update to Title 24 continues in this direction with expanded solar standards in the move to improve onsite energy storage.
The most recent energy code updates build on California’s technology innovations, encouraging inclusion of market-ready electric products in new construction, such as heat pumps for climate control and water heating.
Title 24 Updates
The four areas primary areas of focus proposed by the CEC are:
Expand solar photovoltaic (PV) system and battery standards – By allowing energy to be stored onsite in solar batteries the power grid becomes less reliant on fossil fuel power plants. The 2022 Solar Energy Code update introduces battery storage standards to all types of buildings. It will also allow exceptions to existing solar PV standards when there is not sufficient roof space (i.e. on a smaller home). It also will combine solar PV and battery standards for certain businesses. By adjusting the sizing of systems to maximize the use of solar energy, these standards will help avoid energy demand when the grid is reliant on gas-powered energy.
Establish electric-ready requirements whenever natural gas is installed – When owners are ready to use invest in electric appliances and vehicles, they’ll have the capability to do so. The new standards require all single-family homes to be electric-ready. This will require the installation of electrical circuits for appliances, electrical panels for battery storage, and dedicated circuits so consumers can eventually transition from natural gas to electric.
Encourage electric heat pump technology and use – Heat Pumps are the new standard for electric technology for water and space heating. More energy efficient and producing less pollution than traditional HVACs and water heaters, heat pumps are only in a small fraction of new homes being constructed. New standards in single-family homes, apartments buildings, and businesses will encourage builders to install heat pumps over gas-fueled HVAC units.
Strengthen ventilation standards to improve air quality – Improved ventilation can increase air quality and reduce the transmission of disease. The new standard will push the minimum ventilation requirements in kitchens over cooking surfaces. This will help reduce exhaust pollution while increasing the quality of the air indoors.
Californians will save an additional $1.5 billion in benefits over the next three decades from these updates. All while reducing 10 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, which is equivalent to removing over 2 million cars from the road for a year. The coming Title 24 updates will continue to help push California to reach a proposed goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.