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California’s Title 24 Marches Toward Greener Standards

Building Standards Code requirements approved in 2008 are set to take effect August 1

Posted on Jun 23 2009 by Richard Defendorf

Builders in California long ago acclimated to the ever-greening requirements of Title 24, the California Building Standards Code originally established some 30 years ago to regulate energy efficiency standards for residential and nonresidential improvements and new construction.

The next edition of the code – approved last year and scheduled to take effect on August 1 – is intended to increase the energy efficiency of retrofits, renovations, and new construction 15% to 20% over Title 24 requirements set in 2005 and, a recent Desert Sun story points out, more than 20% over national standards set by the Department of Energy.

Compliance with most of the code requirements will be mandatory for projects launched on or after August 1, although compliance with some green provisions pertaining to site development, water conservation, sustainable building materials, and waste recycling will be voluntary for the next year or two, David Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission, told the paper.

Officials in some cities may push through measures that will make the green provisions mandatory sooner rather than later. Palm Desert officials, for example, see quick implementation of those provisions as a way to help reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as is required of all California cities by the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

From the desert to the coast
That city, the Desert Sun notes, also passed a green building ordinance in 2007 that requires new developments to be 10% to 15% more energy efficient than Title 24. The climatology of the Coachella Valley comes into play too. As GBA mentioned back in April, residents in Palm Desert, where the summer burns especially hot, quickly snapped up subscriptions to a municipal financing program for solar installations.

In fact, municipal code initiatives that exceed Title 24 strictures are hardly limited to the desert, Central Valley, or other parts of the state that see extreme weather. Fairly aggressive green measures are in place or under consideration in temperate-weather havens such as San Francisco and Berkeley.

Berkeley’s recently approved Climate Action Plan, for example, requires that new construction in the city be net zero energy by 2020, and that all existing buildings, through a combination of structural improvements and renewable-energy installations, meet the net zero standard by 2050. That would advance Title 24 green objectives substantially, though getting Berkeley's old houses in green shape will be a major challenge.


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  1. California Energy Commission

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