SolarBuddy Helps Building Owners Meet Title 24 Requirements for Solar Provisioning on New Construction

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Solar provisioning on all new constructions is now incorporated under the California's building energy efficiency standards.

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All new construction will be required to reserve at least 15% of its roof space for the future implementation of solar.

As of January 1, 2014, California will require new energy efficiency standards for all new construction – commonly known as Title 24 amendments. These amended building codes will help standardize energy efficient design and construction methods for new and remodeled buildings. A major component of California’s latest Title 24 amendments is the requirement for solar provisioning on all new construction. Following the new standards for solar provisioning, allows building owners meet Title 24 requirements, educating them with all aspects of solar array – from equipment to installer and financing to savings.

Zero Net Energy (ZNE)
The statewide mandate is part of an effort to move California’s residential and commercial buildings toward Zero Net Energy (ZNE). In a ZNE building, the annual energy consumption is equal to its annual (renewable) energy production. Under Title 24, all new residential construction must be Zero Net Energy by 2020 and all new commercial construction must achieve Zero Net Energy by 2030. The revised code aims to foster comprehensive building design and reduce energy consumption while promoting renewable energy production (such as solar). All new construction will be required to reserve at least 15% of its roof space for the future implementation of solar.

Solar and Title 24
Although panels do not have to be installed at this time, the requirement of ZNE coupled with code compliant mechanical sensors and other electronics will mean a significant increase in the demand for solar. While the residential demand for solar has shown a methodic 3% - 4% annual increase over the past few years, California’s new building code will be a significant catalyst for increased solar demand. With California being the top U.S. solar market (by at least 3 times more than any other state), this measure will mean historical increases in the rate of solar adoption throughout the industry.

One aspect of Title 24 requires communication capabilities on mechanical sensors like thermostats and other HVAC equipment. Thus, consumption & performance data can be analyzed to understand a home’s energy efficiency. Conceptually, the design may result in reduced gas heat. But the electronic components will add to the demand side of the energy equation. Thus, California lawmakers anticipate renewable supply solar (like solar) will help balance that equation.

California Agencies to Adopt Title 24 on State’s Existing Buildings
Title 24 will also apply to existing buildings that undergo significant remodeling or repurposing. Additionally, California Governor Governor Jerry Brown has authorized an executive order for state agencies to achieve ZNE for 50 percent of the existing state-owned buildings by the year 2025. Furthermore, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will unveil a new set of financial incentives to encourage more energy efficiency investments by building owners.

While Title 24 addresses building performance standards, plug-in loads (computers, mobile phones, tablets, TVs, refrigerators, lamps, etc…) still account for over one-third of the electricity consumed in a commercial or residential building. Furthermore, within the same building footprint, two varying lifestyles or businesses can account for a major difference in electricity consumption. Mandates for renewable energy address this consumption from plug-in loads.

An additional measure adopted by the new Title 24 code requires buildings to have “receptacle controllers”, which turn power off at the receptacle to reduce “phantom power consumption” - when electronics continue to draw power even after users have turned them “off.” Receptacle controllers along with solar generation will work to reduce the overall energy demand from utility companies during peak demand hours of the day.

For homeowners, building owners and trade professionals, here is a valuable link to itemized code revisions. The changes in code affect a wide range of disciplines beyond mechanical and electrical. These include structural, aesthetic, manufacturing, sequencing, documentation, 3rd party inspection and others.

For a breakdown of the new Title 24 changes and how it may affect your home or business, click here.

About the California Energy Commission

The Energy Commission's energy efficiency standards have saved Californians more than $74 billion in reduced electricity bills since 1975.

These standards conserve electricity and natural gas and prevent the state from having to build more power plants. The Commission accounts for the savings by using forecasting models for residential and commercial energy consumption. The savings are calculated by determining the energy savings associated with a more efficient building standard or appliance. Savings accumulate over time as older equipment and appliances are replaced with newer, more efficient models and older buildings are retired and replaced with new construction. Savings are calculated by multiplying cumulative savings in each year by the average residential or commercial electricity rates in that year.

The success of standards and other energy efficiency efforts is a significant factor in California's per capita electricity use remaining flat over the last 40 years while the rest of the country's use continues to rise.

For additional information, see the California Energy Commission 2012 Accomplishments.

About SolarBuddy

SolarBuddy is the collaborative effort of co-founders David Smith and Vik Mehta designed to educate consumers on the real value of clean renewable energy. SolarBuddy puts consumers in the driver’s seat when evaluating solar. By providing access to information, customers can take the time to evaluate their options before being contacted by solar reps. Solar reps also enjoy having progressive dialogue with educated consumers.

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