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Updating Energy Code:

Every three years, energy efficiency codes are updated to current times. Gradually, California takes steps towards its ultimate goal of carbon neutrality. This August, the CEC has officially finalized its plans for 2022’s Energy Codes. California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) will review these plans for approval in December. Then, the construction industry will have a year to prepare before changes take effect on January 1, 2023. Only permits pulled after this date will be subject to 2022 building energy efficiency standards. Get involved in workshops and hearing events, plus access documents on the California Energy Commission’s websiteAs Commissioner J. Andrew McAllister states, “Buildings profoundly influence our health, environment, and economy.” With each new code cycle, buildings in California become more weather-resistant, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly. Simultaneously, the costs of these new technologies become more affordable and available.

As HERS Raters, BarrierEnergy has firsthand experience inspecting and reporting on energy-efficient buildings. We report compliance with these codes directly to state authorities. Furthermore, we provide consultation to builders, engineers, and contractors in the construction industry. It is our job to stay ahead of code updates so we can prepare and counsel our clients. Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have about 2022 building energy efficiency standards. 

Electric-Ready Requirements for Single-Family Homes:

The theme of this code cycle appears to be electrification. All new buildings, minus a few exceptions, will be electric only. For the first time, low-rise single-family homes are to adopt electric-ready requirements. Title 24 codes will cover cooking, heating, and EV charging. Electric-ready implies there must be electrical panels and dedicated circuits for electricity. Additionally, a transfer switch is mandatory for the ability to hook up to battery storage. Energy security for the individual consumer will be the ultimate result of this progress.

Electric Heat Pumps (For Air and Water):

Air-to-water heat pumps (AWHPs) are an all-electric alternative to gas air/water heaters. Except, electric heat pumps are much more efficient. In fact, they are not as expensive as you might think. They’re often easier to install and around the same price range. Most importantly, electric heat pumps save money when you consider long-term costs and property value. Imagine the concept of “sticker cost”. A great sales technique is to make the upfront cost appear as small as possible and tack on the extra fees at the end. Contrarily, the up-front cost of the AWHP is much more accurate because energy usage will be less impactful.

Extra costs paid by the builder are offset by the higher value of an energy-efficient home. Now, the home will have a bigger price tag. If you’re a potential buyer, I’m sure you’re thinking “Oh no, what about us? So we get stuck with the bill?” Not exactly. The US office of energy efficiency and renewable energy says energy-efficient buildings are perfect investments for buyers. Average owners save thousands per year. Over time, efficiency goes beyond making that money back and eventually generates money. Thus, entire communities will benefit.

The CEC plans to encourage heat pump technology in this upcoming 2022 building energy efficiency standards. New single-family homes will use electric heat pumps for both air and water. Newly built multifamily residences will be required to use electric heat pumps for space heating. Lastly, most businesses will have also have new HERS requirements for AWHPs. Affected businesses include schools, offices, banks, libraries, retailers, and grocery stores. Otherwise, restaurants and businesses which cannot sensibly meet these standards will be exempt. 

For space heating, radiant ceiling panels may also be used in conjunction with electric heat pumps. Our HERS Raters will tell you if your installer documents specify radiant ceiling panel installation. In that case, ceiling insulation and hydroponic piping must be HERS verified. 

Solar Panels:

According to these proposed codes, commercial and high-rise multifamily builders must have sufficient solar panels to accommodate sixty percent of a new building’s total energy usage. These are the places that need to have power the most in times of crisis. Single-family homes are required to have hookups for battery energy storage and to have solar panels. Therefore, new buildings will either have solar panels or will be solar-ready. Accordingly, more compliance credits will be rewarded for efficient energy systems, such as solar hot water. 

However, each jurisdiction is responsible for implementing unique levels of enforcement beyond the state baseline. For example, the City of Santa Barbara wants to be powered exclusively by renewable electricity by 2030. This is true not only for solar panels but for all building codes. So, be sure to check your local regulations.

Ventilation Standards:

Look out for stricter measures on indoor air quality. New ventilation standards address everything from kitchen hoods to outdoor air filtration. As builders are required to design homes that are more airtight and pressurized, leakage testing must be performed. Mechanical ventilators are becoming essential tools in airtight homes. For multi-family structures, amendments include energy and heat recovery ventilators. In these designs, exhaust air is used to preheat incoming fresh air in order to increase efficiency. Additionally, code drafts for both single and multifamily homes specify better-performing kitchen hoods. 

Closing Thoughts on 2022 Building Energy Efficiency Standards:

BarrierEnergy has real-life experience with these codes, as we are the ones who test and report on compliance. Explore the different kinds of services we offer. We know, we have given you a lot to think about. Now, it is time to browse through the resources we have provided. Start getting prepared sooner rather than later! Taking smaller steps will be less of a headache than trying to figure it all out at once. If you enjoyed this article, check out our article on Santa Barbara’s Natural Gas Ban. Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for notice of our newest articles. 

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