California is requiring solar power for new residential construction under standards taking effect on January 1, 2020. On May 9, the California Energy Commission (CEC) held a hearing in Sacramento on the 2019 Title 24, Part 6, Building Energy Efficiency Standards and voted to adopt them as a step toward Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings. Policy drivers for the building standards include the 2008 California Public Utilities Commission Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, which has targets for energy savings such as all new residential construction being ZNE by 2020 and all new commercial construction being ZNE by 2030.
The CEC released a revision of the draft express terms for 15-day public review and comment. The 15-day language and related documentation can be found here. Public comments at the hearing were mostly in support of adoption, although some concerns were also noted such as fears that a prescriptive measure with photovoltaics (PV) could lock out other non-PV technologies.
Beyond a cost effective increase in building energy efficiency, the new standards also aim to contribute toward the State’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals, decrease the residential impact on the grid, and improve air quality.
Most of the changes in the standards deal with Title 24, Part 6, relating to General Provisions for All Occupancies with some associated Administrative Regulations impacted in Part 1. In Part 6, there are updates on the types of buildings covered by the Energy Standards; healthcare facilities, for example, have been added to the scope. There are also updates relating to ventilation, specifically high-rise ventilation, natural ventilation, and exhaust. In addition, there are new requirements covering fault diagnostics for HVAC, air filtration requirements, and non-residential lighting devices and controls.
Among the mandatory measures, there are updated requirements for wall insulation, fan efficacy for new gas furnaces (0.45 W/cfm vs. 0.58 W/cfm), and air filtration. Furthermore, ASHRAE 62.2-2016 has been adopted with amendments in regard to kitchen range hood verification ratings and indoor air quality ventilation for multi-family dwellings.
Prescriptive measures include PV system requirements for new residential construction. Thermal envelope updates include more efficient fenestration and requirements for door insulation, roof decks, and wall assemblies. For water heating, there are new prescriptive options for heat pump water heaters in new constructions and storage gas water heaters. Although PV is a prescriptive requirement, batteries are a compliance option. Parallel paths exist for new construction: one for mixed-fuel homes and another for all-electric homes. Electrified buildings have the lowest CO2 emission levels.
Although the cost of buildings will be impacted, the CEC believes that overall, any increase will be more than offset by lower energy bills per their studies.