The California Energy Commission Continues its Push for Building Efficiency

By April Willoughby | Jul 14, 2014 ShareShare

July 1, 2014 marked another historic moment for California as a leader in building energy code reform and a promoter of building energy efficiency. The 2013 CALGreen, Part 6, Title 24 (also known as the California Energy Code) has gone into effect. As a result, certain nonresidential additions and alterations will trigger compliance with more stringent energy-saving measures for plumbing, electrical, lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. It is expected that the implementation of these updated Title 24 regulations will increase the compliance costs of tenant improvements and new commercial building construction projects. Building owners and tenants of commercial real estate will need detailed evaluations of the practical impacts of these regulations on each new project.

Major requirements added to the 2013 Standards include full-building commissioning for non-residential buildings greater than 10,000 s.f., sub-metering of electrical power distribution systems, and stricter lighting controls and daylighting requirements. New buildings must comply with “solar-ready” requirements, mandatory minimum insulation requirements, and increased fenestration and transmittance requirements for glazing. In addition to increased stringency, the Standards have increased in scope to include requirements for data centers, laboratories, kitchen exhaust systems and parking garages.

The 2013 Energy Standards changes are leading towards a tiered energy performance savings upwards of 30 percent above the 2008 Standards. Few of the updated 2013 Standards are merely voluntary as many local jurisdictions may adopt “voluntary” measures as mandatory.

Maneuvering through the sea of code change information and compliance forms, trying to fully understand the implications of the energy code changes can be daunting. This is especially true if you’re unfamiliar with building codes, construction standards, and the complexity of mechanical and electrical systems. With the potential negative perception creating by this complexity and increased construction costs, it’s easy to lose sight of the real benefit of the energy code changes.

As the economy of California continues to grow and its infrastructure is stretched to new limits, the state faces an ever-increasing challenge in managing its energy and water resources. The only way to ensure our future as a leader in building technology, on a local and national level, is to improve the energy efficiencies of our buildings.

The California Energy Commission Impact Analysis Report based on the 2013 Building Energy Standards published in July 2012 stated that Green House Gas (GHG) emissions of commercial buildings are second only to transportation. Many of us don’t equate the consumption of energy and emission of greenhouse gases by new commercial buildings to be equal to automobiles, airlines and railroads. Given this reality, there is a lot to gain from the new energy code changes, both environmentally and financially. The report estimated that the new Standard changes will reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 597 tons during the first year they are in effect. In addition to reduction in GHG emissions, it is projected that 555 million kilowatt hours will be saved during the first year. This equates to over $100 million in savings due to energy reductions.

In planning a new project, whether an upgrade to your existing facility or a new building, it’s important to understand the impacts the new code changes will have. XL’s MEP and preconstruction groups are prepared to help navigate the regulations. As part of our preconstruction process, we can evaluate the project and provide guidance to ensure standards are met while maximizing energy savings potential with the least impact to your budget.




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