Title 24: Saving Homeowners Money, Reducing Pollution and Creating Jobs. What's Not to Like?
Great news came from California recently when the California Energy Commission (CEC) announced that it will finalize energy efficiency standards for new and renovated buildings. As a result of the buildings standard, known as Title 24, California will reduce 300,000 tons of CO2 emissions in the first year (equivalent to removing 53,000 cars off the road), prevent the need to build 8 or more large 500 MW power plants over next 30 years, and create up to 3,500 new full time local construction jobs annually.
Homes and commercial buildings are California’s largest consumers of energy accounting for 60% of natural gas use, 70% electricity usage and 80% of peak electrical demand. The Commission’s proposed standards for new buildings are projected to reduce annual energy use of single family homes by 30% (compared to a home built to the current 2008 code), and over 30% for commercial buildings on their regulated loads – lighting, heating and ventilation, and cooling. Once the standard is in full effect in 2014, California will save at least $100 million a year in the form of lower electricity bills.
The buildings standard was developed through a two-year public process with input from builders, manufacturers, California utilities, code officials and engineers; and supported by energy efficiency and environmental advocates, including NRDC, the U.S. Green Building Council’s California Chapters, Sierra Club, Building Code Assistance Project, Alliance to Save Energy and many others.
California Needs an Aggressive Building Energy Code
California’s ability to meet requirements under its climate law AB 32 and the 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard will be easier and perhaps only possible by reducing and preventing further energy demands attributed to buildings. Additionally, California’s zero net energy goals for new residential construction beginning in 2020 require that the new buildings standard and the next adopt every cost effective energy efficiency measure.
As buildings lock in energy use for their 50 year plus average life spans, instead of doing retrofits such adding insulation or other costly and time consuming improvements down the road, it is critically important that they are efficient from the start.
California’s proven track record in setting strong standards began in the mid-70s, when it established the first building and appliance standards in the United States. As a result, Californians have saved more than $65 billion dollars on energy costs and benefitted from the creation of 1.5 million jobs and $45 billion in new payroll. California has also avoided the need for nearly 30 large (500 MW) power plants and the resulting pollution and public health impacts of those plants. California’s example demonstrates that investments in energy efficiency continue to be far less expensive than the cost of electricity production from either renewable energy or fossil fuels.
Given the impressive benefits of the buildings standard and its cost effectiveness as demonstrated, the California Energy Commission should move forward to adopt Title 24 as proposed in an expeditious manner. Reducing energy use in the built environment through a strong building standard will help California save millions of dollars in electricity bills, create jobs, and retain its leadership in sound building construction while providing dividends to future generations.