2016 New California Building Codes and Energy Efficiency Standards to go into effect January 1, 2017
Are You Ready?
January 1st, 2017 will be here soon and the new 2016 California Building Codes (CBC) and Energy Efficiency Standards will be adapted by all
California's Building Codes and Energy Efficiency Standards run on a three-year cycle. The new changes scheduled to go into effect January 1st of 2017, will continue to improve upon the 2013 Standards for new construction of, and additions and alterations to, residential and nonresidential buildings. Any project submitted after January 1st will have to be executed per the new codes. If you already have a permit for your project under the existing 2013 CBC's you will be grandfathered. For subdivisions, the portion of your project not permitted under the existing code will have to be carried out in accordance with the new codes.
The 2016 California Building Code's affecting Structural Engineering are minimal and involve some of the following: seismic and wind force changes based on the new provisions will require the lateral analysis for the buildings to be re-done, resulting in resistance to over-turning at end of shear walls and shear walls in high wind areas will be up-sized; these changes will not significantly add to the cost of construction. Other revisions include the use of certain fasteners utilized for wood to wood connections, re-analyzing of truss designs by the truss manufacturer's engineer to ensure designs are in accordance with the new codes; structural engineers will be required to do shop drawing reviews for these trusses. For podium post tension slabs, the cables have to be fully encapsulated; this will not apply to post tension slab on grade. Lastly, concrete masonry strength has increased from 1500 psi to 2000 psi which will help on size and reinforcing of walls, fence walls and retaining walls.
What are the changes to Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) design systems?
Changes on energy analysis will have an impact on MEP and aside from the effect on T-24, other changes are insignificant. Some of these new changes involve the increased requirements for Whole Building Ventilation which will demand bigger ventilation fans and air filters based on MERV 8. The flow rate limits for bathroom faucets has reduced to 1.2 gpm compared to 1.5 gpm in the 2013 code; this will result in a longer wait for hot water and can be accommodated by adding hot water re-circulation systems however, this may affect energy compliance. Lastly, electric car chargers have to be installed in every home which will increase total electric load demands; for single family homes, this increase will not affect construction costs but for multi-family we have to up-size the electrical sub-panels or adjust equipment sizes which may affect the utility size closet.
The 2016 Title 24- Building Energy Efficiency Standards are a bit more complex. The California Energy Commission (CEC) is aiming to make all new residential homes Zero Net Energy (ZNE) by the year 2020 and all new commercial projects ZNE by 2030. A ZNE building produces energy in amounts equivalent to the volume it consumes therefore making the building self-sustainable. According to the CEC, the 2016 Standards are expected to use close to 28 percent less energy for lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and water heating than 2013's Standards. This conservation of energy over the span of 30 years will enable California to power 2.2 million homes therefore, reducing the need to build 12 additional power plants!
The most significant changes in the
2016 California Building Codes pertain to the Building Energy Efficiency Standards and include the
new requirements for high-performance insulation within walls and attics, high efficacy lighting and improved water heating systems.
High performance walls and attics with increased insulation will improve comfort and reduce energy consumption by improving the home's natural heating and cooling performance. The requirement for the use of
high efficacy lighting in new homes will ensure high quality lighting controls which in turn will aide in halving the energy necessary for lights in newly built homes. Lastly,
improved water heating systems which call for the installation of tankless water heating technology along with better distribution systems will reduce the energy needed to provide hot water to homes by about 35 percent, you can see the efficiency in that reduction!
How is all this energy saving determined and calculated?
The California Energy Code is based on what is known as Time Dependent Valuation or TDV, assigning every hour of the year a TDV value. This is what California uses to evaluate technologies and establish a loading order where time of use rates align with consumer pricing and the utility's time-dependent costs. The energy savings that takes place during the peak load hours (12pm-6pm) is rewarded more heavily because of its higher TDV value!
Mandatory vs. Prescriptive vs. Performance
While the new changes could be a bit overwhelming it is important to understand the different compliance paths which make adapting the new changes a bit easier. There are three compliance paths which include
Mandatory, Prescriptive and Performance compliance methods and it is important to understand the differences among the three.
Mandatory compliance measures must ALWAYS be met,
prescriptive requirements must meet a
prescribed minimum efficiency and
performance which requires an approved Computer Software program allowing for finding the most cost-effective solution to complying with the Standards. These methods provide more flexibility and direction while trying to comply with what could be a complex set of standards and requirements.
If you would like more information regarding the 2016 California Building Codes and Efficiency Standards please visit the CBSC and CEC's websites provided and/or feel free to contact our office in regards to setting up an Energy Code Seminar.
The links below go into further detail about the Mandatory, Prescriptive and Performance 2016 Standards in addition to more new important changes provided by the CEC and DuctTesters Energy Consulting and Verification Company for residential and nonresidential buildings.