> FOCUS BY RICK LAEZMAN
THE MODERN MOVEMENT toward more sustainable-energy practices has
touched almost every aspect of our daily lives. From renewable power to electric
vehicles (EVs), few of these changes have gone unnoticed, and the trend
affects almost everyone in one way or another.
There is always some fear in major transformations that
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burdensome or even draconian changes will be imposed from the
top down. Renewable-energy standards and demand-response
programs have a tendency to feed that fear. The good news is
that the change to less polluting and less gluttonous forms of
energy consumption doesn’t necessarily have to hurt.
New energy-efficiency standards
Title 24 Update
70 ELECTRICALCONTRACTOR | SEP. 14 | WWW.ECMAG.COM
The push for greater energy efficiency is just one element in
the larger effort to change the way we use power. California has
been setting and gradually raising the bar for reduced energy
use in residential and commercial buildings for more than 30
years. New standards that went into effect this summer show
that some of the best ways to increase energy efficiency can be
painless and also maybe not even noticed at all.
California’s Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and
Non-Residential Buildings, which are part 6 of the state’s Building Standards Code (familiarly known as Title 24 for short),
were originally adopted by the Building Standards Commission
in 1978 in response to new legislation. Intended to help the
state reduce its energy consumption, the state’s energy commission updates them about every three years to allow for the
consideration and adoption of new technologies and practices
in the field.
Adopted in 2013, the latest update went into effect on July 1
of this year. Its many changes affect everything from windows
to ductwork in residential and nonresidential (commercial)
buildings. Unless they count ductwork and window installations
among their specialties, electrical contractors (ECs) will not be
affected by many of these changes. The update is especially
benign for ECs working on single-family residential. However,
the effect on ECs doing commercial work will be much greater.
There are still some important changes that specifically concern residential electrical work. ECs doing residential work in
California will want to become familiar with them so they can
properly estimate in their proposals. The changes, while not particularly dramatic, will still do their part to help make California
residences even more energy-efficient than they already are.
Forty years of efficiency
Already, the state’s energy-efficiency standards have helped
California save an enormous amount of electricity over the last
three decades. According to the California Energy Commission
(CEC), residents of the state have saved more than $740 billion in reduced electricity bills since 1977. The standards have
also helped the state avoid the need for more power plants and,
amazingly, have helped California maintain the same level of
per capita electricity consumption over the last four decades.
Meanwhile, the rest of the country’s per capita consumption
increased at a rapid pace to the point where it is now almost
double California’s rate.