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Green Building News

California’s Energy Code Update: Ready, Set, Wait

A delay in compliance software preparation prompts the California Energy Commission to shift the update’s effective date to the first of the year

Image Credit: California Energy Commission

There aren’t many aspects of private-sector enterprise or government operations that don’t rely on software to make things happen. Just ask the California Energy Commission.

August 1 was to be the day the 2008 Building Energy Efficiency Standards – parts 1 and 6 of Title 24, the California Building Standards Code – became effective. But a delay in the rollout of proprietary software that building industry professionals will use to assure they are complying with the code has, in turn, prompted the commission to shift the effective date to January 1, 2010.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most of California’s building industry has acclimated to the state’s progression of increasingly strict building regulations and many in the business had long ago geared up for the Title 24 update. And code in some municipalities already exceeds that of Title 24.

The next edition of the code is intended to increase the energy efficiency of retrofits, renovations, and new construction 15% to 20% over Title 24 requirements set in 2005. Title 24 has 12 parts, each of which addresses a construction category or set of administrative regulations. Even after January 1, compliance with some of Title 24’s green provisions – pertaining to site development, water conservation, sustainable building materials, and waste recycling – will continue to be voluntary for the next year or two.

More time to gear up

A delay of five months is, as the CEC points out, not necessarily a bad thing, because it “provides the industry and building officials more time to prepare for the new standards” and gives the CEC “additional time to provide more information for the standards and work with the California utilities, building industry and the California building officials to provide training on the new standards.”

Also, CEC compliance software that doesn’t perform as required could cause significant problems for the state’s building industry.

“The inspectors have to be trained. They have to train the architects and engineers that are going to work with (the software),” Fred Bell, executive director of the Building Industry Association’s Desert Chapter, told the Desert Sun newspaper for a recent story on the subject. “There are components that have to be manufactured (to code) — air conditioning, ducts. Building is manufacturing. When you have a challenge in one area, there’s a ripple effect through everything else.”


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