Top Five Implications of California’s New Energy Standards

Energy consumption is a global issue and California is leading the charge in enacting legislation to reduce our carbon footprint. The state recently revised the energy standards known as Title 24, part 6 of the California Code of Regulations, which will more than likely affect other states in the future. The goal of Title 24 is to reduce energy use and make commercial and industrial buildings more efficient than required by the 2010 Title 24 standards.

Originally adopted in 1978, Title 24 is updated periodically to account for improvements in conservation technologies, changes in the cost of fuels and energy-conserving strategies, and improved capabilities in analyzing building energy performance. In addition, modifications are also made to further improve compliance and enforcement of the Title 24 standards.

Five key requirements of Title 24 standards:

  1. Zero net energy — Title 24 is designed to move buildings toward zero net energy (ZNE) where annual energy consumption is equal to the annual production of renewable energy. Under Title 24, all new commercial buildings should achieve ZNE by 2030.
  2. Comprehensive building solutions —Title 24 now requires the design process to begin by addressing ways to reduce energy consumption through smart and energy efficient technologies. Design must also include plans to install on-site renewable energy generation like solar panels, solar hot water heaters and fuel cells.
  3. Plug-in controls — Electronic devices – computers, tablets, cell phones, TVs, and desk lamps – continue to use power even when they are turned off. Title 24 requires that all 120-volt receptacles be configured so they can be turned off without drawing electricity, especially during critical-peak electricity supply time periods.
  4. Efficient lighting technologies — Interior lighting must have manual on / off controls and each area must be independently controlled. Title 24 calls for increased usage of natural lighting, such as automated daylighting, which uses sensors to measure the amount of natural light available and adjusts electric lighting accordingly.
  5. Automated demand response — Another significant Title 24 lighting change is the requirement that buildings over 10,000 square feet have automated demand response lighting systems. Smart meters will monitor when the electricity grid is reaching a critical peak supply period and initiate pre-programmed reductions of at least 15 percent.


In coordination with these code revisions, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) is revising the financial incentives offered through utilities to encourage energy efficiency investments by building owners. In 2014, a new set of financial incentives are being launched that support comprehensive building solutions.

If you’d like to learn more about Title 24 and the possible impact in other states, email me at



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