Improved Energy Efficiency Building Standards for California

IN a move to reduce energy costs and saving consumers money the U.S. State of California Energy Commission unanimously approved energy efficiency standards for new commercial and residential buildings.

"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."

The Energy Commission's 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards are 30 percent better for nonresidential construction. The Standards will come into effect on January 1, 2014 and will look to reduce energy consumption.

Some improved measures in the Standards for nonresidential buildings include:

  • 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 synchronise light levels with daylight and building occupancy, and provide demand response capability
  • Solar-ready roofs to allow businesses to add solar photovoltaic panels at a future date
  • Cool roof technologies

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 the 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 percent of their annual energy need.

By working closely with the building industry and other stakeholders, the Energy Commission developed standards that recognized the challenges facing builders and provided the industry flexibility and options for meeting the standards.

Since 1978, the California Energy Commission has saved Californians $66 billion in electricity and natural gas costs through energy efficient building and appliance standards.

Picture: Golden Gate (Olivier BACQUET) / CC BY 2.0

Thursday 7th June 2012

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