Building codes are changing in modern times to keep up with the need to conserve energy. Many aspects of construction have updated their respective regulations to ensure that energy conservation is a priority; For example, the addition of exterior walls, windows, and interior walls, and insulation. These remodeling aspects will cause a shift in the energy usage of buildings.
California has updated the Building Energy Efficiency Standards to reduce wasteful energy consumption in both new construction and existing renovation projects. Title 24 of the Building Energy Efficiency Standards is a 12-part section of the California Building Standards Code. The energy code is mainly applied in Parts 6 and 11. This article will assist in determining the triggers for a remodeling or addition project under Title 24 regulation.
As mentioned earlier, Title 24 is a 12-part section of the Building Standards Code. Many of the different parts of the code will highlight and specify the criteria needed for various buildings. Based on the 2019 California Code of Regulations, Part 2.5 applies to detached single-family and double family dwellings and townhomes that do not exceed three stories. Also, this part applies to accessory structures, with some exceptions. The exceptions include restricted solar access for potential shaded areas and accessory dwellings less than eighty square feet. Part 6 was originally drafted in 1978 to create legislation to mandate energy consumption reduction in the state of California. This part is updated by the California Energy Commission (CEC) annually. It is meant to increase the efficiency of energy and water consumption. Additionally, Part 6 aims to address the Californian goal of reaching zero net energy.
Part 11 is the only Green Buildings Standards code in the nation — both the CEC and the California Department of Housing and Community Development provide updates on this part. Part 11, also known as CALGreen, focuses on reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions, water waste reduction, water as a resource, and sustainable buildings. These are the areas that apply to residential properties. The overall goal is to create cost-effective and efficient areas to live in.
Furthermore, Title 24 is a technical document that is amended through an erratum that is effective immediately or a supplement that is effectively based on specific dates. Errata consists of punctuation and grammatical changes, while supplements may include legislative changes or restrictions. These apply to the code often, so Title 24 is always changing.
Remodeling or Addition Project
When determining the applicability of Title 24, you should hire a professional to give an overview of what the anticipated work is and how the application of Title 24 may affect the project. Any changes to the physical structure will require consulting a structural engineer. Design Everest can work with you to provide a free quote and consultation.
As the code advanced over the years, some common changes included low-flow water fixtures that would apply to the buildings, but Part 6 – California Energy Code and Part 11 – CALGreen are typically only applicable when a structural change to the building’s frame is done in a remodel. Title 24 applies in the case of a modification that results in at least 10% of the lighting system. It is also applicable when the energy features such as openings for windows and doors are increasing/decreasing, enlargement of exterior openings, wall insulation, replacement of roofs, upgrades to water heaters, and mechanical systems are taking place. This portion of the code relies heavily on energy consumption, so energy-efficient lighting systems may apply to smaller renovations if the building is much older. Also, modifications to a property may include increasing the volume of interior walls and upgrading the ductwork. All of this adds volume to the building and affects the energy usage, so this will require upgrades.
Title 24 codes are time-sensitive; therefore, buildings must comply within the required dates, or they may be required to update the buildings due to code enforcement issues. Code enforcement is a process where codes are not being followed on a property, so the owner is now financially responsible for code violations or for permitting their property and getting it up to code. Common code violations include erecting buildings without proper permits, electrical work that building officials did not inspect, and illegal trenchwork.
Lastly, the best way to determine the applicability of Title 24 is by consulting the local jurisdiction’s building department. A professional team should be onboarded to manage the renovation and permitting process if the information provided was not clear. The upgrades to a more energy-efficient system will rely heavily on the plumbing, mechanical, and electrical system. CALGreen offers a regulatory code to idealize a green building with all the efficient factors in mind to create sustainable buildings; however, most jurisdictions will not make a homeowner update the appliances in the home when they may be outdated fairly soon anyway. The building departments work with the necessary code changes and base their requirements on that. A rule of thumb is that if a building permit is required, Title 24 is going to be triggered. If maintenance of the property is being done, Title 24 compliance is not necessary.
Title 24 is based on energy consumption and efficiency. A renovation project may require Title 24 reporting when external changes and mechanical changes are being proposed. Anything that relies on energy usage will result in Title 24 applicability. The only way to decide is to consult the building department where the property is located and identify the requirements of that area. Design Everest’s team can assist in consulting the building department and drafting plans for a renovation or addition to a building. Contact us to get a free quote and consultation today.