California is not just one of the most progressive places to live, it really sets the bar when it comes to sustainable living. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Title 24, Part 6 which calls for Zero Net Energy (ZNE) in new residential construction by 2020 and new commercial construction by 2030. These forward-thinking standards will create a huge surge of energy efficiency when implemented.
Architects, contractors, developers, and realtors will need time to understand and implement the new energy codes to achieve ZNE.
To achieve ZNE, a building must produce enough renewable energy to equal its annual energy consumption. Meeting this standard will require architects, engineers and contractors to adapt to new building energy efficiencies when designing buildings. While these technologies may increase the initial cost of the building, the long terms saving in energy will more than offset the initial expense.
Design of Future Projects
The design of new construction has changes and will continue to change. The entire building development will have to be analyzed as a system to make sure that the building energy efficiency is complaint with Title 24. This includes walls, floors, roofs and any opening in the structure like windows, skylights or doors. New designs will have to include energy saving measures like:
- High-Performance Walls: Better insulation will keep heat out in the summer and lock it in during the winter. This will not only make buildings more energy efficient but more comfortable as well. Updated codes will also require increased roofing insulation for commercial buildings.
- Energy Efficient Attics: Attics are huge energy wasters by energy efficiency standards. Builders will have to increase sealing and insulation for the attics of new buildings. Alternatively, they can use ductless systems or install ducts in areas that are already conditioned so that energy is not lost into the attic.
- Passive Design: This strategy will take into account the natural energy flows into and out of the building to minimize the energy required to heat and cool the structure.
- High-Efficiency Lights: Lighting solutions will integrate both ambient and artificial lighting to reduce energy consumption. Motion sensors will monitor the ambient light and turn on lights as needed to achieve a comfortable lighting level. The new socket requirements will need a CFL or LED bulb in every socket. Automated demand response systems in large buildings will automatically reduce lighting in homes during periods of peak demand. (We’ll be exploring this a bit further in follow-up articles)
- Plug-in Controls: Phantom loads from appliances and computers that are plugged in but not in use eat up massive amounts of energy. The new energy codes require that receptacles have controllers that shut off when appliances are not in use. This is an easy way to stay in compliance of the energy efficiency standard set by Title 24.
- Tankless Water Heaters: The new energy requirements state that water heaters will heat water on demand rather than storing it in a tank.
- Elevators and escalators: Elevator fans and lights should shut off when the device is unoccupied. Escalators will be required to run slower when no one is using them.
- Interlocking Heating and Cooling Controls: Commercial buildings with windows that open are now required to have controls that turn off the heat or cooling if a window is open for more than five minutes.
Projects Involving Existing Construction
Large projects involving remodeling or re-purposing of buildings will also have to meet ZNE standards. In addition, California’s Governor has issued an executive order requiring 50% of the square footage of state buildings to be ZNE by 2025.
Title 24, Part 6 sets a high energy conservation standard for California construction. This will pay off in long-term energy savings that will keep California ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainable construction. Today, architects, engineers and contractors are still developing the strategies to achieve ZNE buildings. But as contractors learn the best strategies to achieve ZNE, costs will fall as economies of scale are achieved.
Exploring Part 6 Further
In the next couple months, we’ll be looking at lighting standards and controls as well as new window standards to further discuss the implications of Title 24, Part 6.
Have questions? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you with an answer.