In a May 31, 2012 vote, the California Energy Commission unanimously approved new energy efficiency standards for new homes and commercial buildings. The Commission’s 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards are 30% more efficient than previous standards for non-residential construction and 25% more efficient for residential construction.
Going into effect on January 1, 2014, these Standards address windows, insulation, lighting, ventilation systems, and other features that reduce energy consumption in buildings and homes. (All buildings except hospitals, nursing homes, correctional centers, jails, and prisons are covered.)
“Improving the energy efficiency of buildings in which we will live and work will save Californians energy for decades,” said Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas. “These Standards will help save consumers money on their utility bills, keep them comfortable in their homes, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through better, more efficient buildings.”
Window Film Now In Code
One notable part of the Standards is that window film is now part of a state building code for the first time in the United States. The change to the code means window film is recognized as a building product just like glass or roofing materials, but primarily for retrofit applications. It can significantly reduce energy consumption and reduce the effects of breakage, glare, harmful UV exposure to the skin, and interior fading of furnishings.
“This addition to the code is a major step forward for energy efficiency in California, especially when considering the amount of untreated glass in the state in the majority of buildings,” said Darrell Smith, executive director of the International Window Film Association (IWFA). “The wide application of window film is a simple way to immediately cut utility demand generation, and the resulting reduction of peak demand on utilities and greenhouse gases will further the state’s reputation as an environmental leader.”
Other Measures In The New CA Code
The Commission’s vote included changes to other building products and systems, for improved energy efficiency. For non-residential buildings, these are
- High performance windows, sensors, and controls that allow buildings to use daylighting
- Efficient process equipment in supermarkets, computer data centers, commercial kitchens, laboratories, and parking garages
- Advanced lighting controls to synchronize light levels with daylight and building occupancy, and to provide demand response capability
- Solar-ready roofs to allow the addition of solar photovoltaic panels at a future date
- Cool roof technologies
On the residential front, the changes are:
- Solar-ready roofs to allow owners to add solar photovoltaic panels at a future date
- More efficient windows to allow increased sunlight, while decreasing heat gain
- Insulated hot water pipes, to save water and energy and reduce the time it takes to deliver hot water
- Whole house fans to cool homes and attics with evening air reducing the need for air conditioning load
- Air conditioner installation verification to ensure efficient operation
Within the first year of implementation, the Standards are projected to add up to 3,500 new building industry jobs as well as save million gallons of water per year. After 30 years of implementing the Standards, California will save nearly 14,000 megawatt hours or enough electricity to power 1.7 million homes and avoid the need to construct six new power plants.
Two energy policy goals are driving the design of these current standards: The Loading Order, which directs that growing demand must be met first with cost-effective energy efficiency and next with renewable generation; and “Zero Net Energy” (ZNE) goals for new homes by 2020 and commercial buildings by 2030. The ZNE goal means that new buildings must use a combination of improved efficiency and distributed renewable generation to meet 100% of their annual energy need.
By working closely with the building industry and other stakeholders, the California Energy Commission developed standards that recognized the challenges facing builders and provided the industry flexibility and options for meeting the standards. Supporters include: California Building Industry Association; Natural Resources Defense Council; Pacific Gas & Electric; Southern California Edison; San Diego Gas & Electric; Southern California Gas, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE); Alliance to Save Energy; Building Code Assistance Project; and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project.