California Association of Building Energy Consultants

Changes in the 2016 California Energy Code, beginning January 1, 2017

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) have launched a residential Zero Net Energy Action Plan to build a self-sustaining market for all new homes to be net-zero energy by 2020. This is changing the way buildings are constructed in California.

Zero Net Energy is defined as: "The societal value of energy consumed by the building over the course of a typical year is less than or equal to the societal value of the on-site renewable energy generated."

Revised Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Definition

"In other words, a zero-net-energy building produces as much energy as it consumes, usually through a mix of high efficiency and clean onsite generation. The definition requires that a home create as much energy as it uses over the course of an entire year, rather than on a real-time basis."

— Paraphrased from:
California Wants All New Homes to Be Net Zero in 2020

Energy Commission Continues March Toward Zero Net Energy With 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards

SACRAMENTO — The California Energy Commission unanimously approved building energy efficiency standards today that will reduce energy costs, save consumers money, and increase comfort in new and upgraded homes and other buildings.

Single family homes built with the Energy Commission's 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards will use about 28 percent less energy for lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and water heating than those built to the 2013 standards.

"The best way to create a high-performing building is to design and build it that way in the first place," said Commissioner Andrew McAllister, who is the Energy Commission's lead on energy efficiency. "With the adoption of the 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, we are one step closer to the state's 2020 zero net energy goal, where a building produces as much energy as it consumes. With features such as high performance attics and walls, instantaneous water heaters, and highly efficient lighting, new homes will consume energy at a level that could be met by on-site solar or other renewable generation."

The standards, which take effect on Jan. 1, 2017, focus on three key areas: updating residential requirements to move closer to California's zero net energy goals, updating nonresidential and high-rise residential requirements, and improving the clarity and consistency of existing regulations. Based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that standards will add about $11 per month for the average home, but save consumers $31 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills.

"With this adoption, the Energy Commission has established a solid balance between the need to reduce energy consumption with the need to limit increased construction costs," said California Building Industry Association CEO and President Dave Cogdill. "We thank the Commissioners and their staff for working with industry during the past 18 months on this effort."

In addition to simplifying the language, other major improvements include:



Memo from the California Energy Commission, dated June 10, 2015

See also:

As always, I am available to discuss the process of meeting the California Energy Code for any building project. Contact me …