New California building code to slash energy bills by billions

Today the California Energy Commission voted 4-0 to adopt new energy efficiency standards for residential and commercial buildings in California. This move will update the existing 2013 California Building Energy Efficiency Standards, also known as Title 24. As a result, new construction buildings in California as well as major alterations and additions to existing buildings will be amongst the most energy efficient in the nation when the new rules take effect on January 1, 2014.

Thanks to these standards, owners and tenants will be assured of having new buildings that sip rather than gulp energy when providing heating & cooling, lighting, or hot water. According to the CEC estimates, Californians can expect energy savings of 25 percent for homes, 30 percent for commercial buildings, and 14 percent for low rise multifamily buildings. While we are awaiting the final numbers from the CEC, we can bank on that these standards will provide massive benefits and savings over the next 30 years, including:

  • Avoiding the need to build six large (500 MW) power plants
  • Saving tenants and building owners several billion dollars in the form of lower electricity and natural gas bills
  • Preventing the emission of several million tons of CO2, the main pollutant responsible for climate change

California's new residential building energy efficiency standards

These standards are the present that keeps on giving

That's because the building envelope and systems such as insulation, efficient windows and heating & cooling equipment that are initially installed often last 30 to 50-plus years. When built to be energy efficient, occupants in these buildings are much more comfortable during hot summer days and utility bills remain lower year after year. It's also a lot easier and cheaper to add the right amount of insulation or install energy efficient windows during the construction phase than it is to rip open walls or replace windows for more efficient ones after the building is completed.  

California's new nonresidential building energy efficiency standards

 

In addition to the building energy code improvements, the commission has been simultaneously working hard to make sure the appliances and gadgets we bring into our home and businesses are energy efficient as well. Look no further than the pioneering TV efficiency standards recently set by the commission which will reduce new TV energy use by up to 50 percent and save consumers more than a billion dollars annually in the form of lower electric bills.

It's forward thinking policies like these that enable California to hold per capita electricity use essentially flat over the past 30 years while the rest of the nation saw per capita electricity use increase by nearly 50 percent.

That's why NRDC supports the new energy efficiency standards for commercial and residential buildings in California. Let's continue to support cutting edge policies that make efficiency standards stronger so they continue to bring tangible benefits to all Californians.

This article originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog and is reprinted with permission.

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Building image via Shutterstock.