Starting July 1, the revisions to the California Building Energy Code took effect.  These “incremental increases” in code requirements are designed so that they do not shock the building market.

Some highlights of the revisions for nonresidential construction include:

  • The design team is required to complete a commissioning plan before building begins.
  • Lighting and heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems must be on separate electric panels so that designers know exactly where the energy use comes from.
  • Automatic scheduling and timed switch controls that turn lights off during daylight hours are required.
  • New buildings must be “solar ready” with rooftop accommodation for panel anchors and wiring pathways.

The revisions are designed to decrease energy consumption for residential buildings by 35 percent and for nonresidential buildings by 25 percent over the former 2008 standards.

For new residential construction, the changes to the standards add approximately $2,000 to new residential building construction costs. Estimated energy savings to homeowners, however, add up to more than $6,000 over 30 years.

In total, these standards are estimated to save 200 million gallons of water (equal to more than 6.5 million laundry loads) and will avoid 170,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

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