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Prepare for 2017’s new Title 24 regulations

Every three years, the California Energy Commission (CEC) revisits its energy efficiency standards, augmenting the building code to align with recent technological advancements and the state's new efficiency goals. The commission underwent this process again this year, identifying areas for improvement in both new construction and retrofits for residential and nonresidential properties.With this most recent set of revisions, the commission is striving toward a pair of new state efficiency targets: achieving net zero energy for new residential construction by 2020 and for new commercial construction by 2030. Referred to as the 2016 version, these standards will go into effect January 1, 2017, which gives contractors just a few months with which to become familiar with the new building requirements.Before we dive into what's new for 2017, let's take a step back and review the overall goal of these standards.What is Title 24? "Title 24" is the short name for the California's Building Energy Efficiency Standards Title 24, Part 6, which exists to conserve electricity and natural gas consumption throughout the state. Among the many benefits of reduced consumption, Title 24 specifically seeks to prevent the state from having to build additional power plants to supply unchecked demand, according to the CEC. . . . Read More

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New climate legislation could add fuel to California’s economy

When most people think about the economic effects of green building, they think about the cash that homeowners, property managers and businesses save by reducing their use of natural resources and energy. After all, California's energy-saving programs saved its residents nearly $90 billion on their energy bills between 1973 and 2013, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. However, sustainability's impact goes far beyond patching the hole in end users' pockets. The Golden State's commitment to energy efficiency over the last decade has spurred as much as $48 billion in economic growth, according to new analysis by nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). The group attributes much of this stimulus, as well as the creation of about 500,000 jobs, to the goals set forth by a piece of legislation known as AB 32. Signed into law in 2006 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, AB 32 stipulated that the state would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent, achieving 1990 levels by 2020. Since then, California has played host to dozens of new climate policies and seen countless energy-saving innovations arise out of the desert, events to which E2 attributes much of the state's economic growth.  According to E2, California's aggressive energy goals have helped . . . Read More

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Water efficiency linked to ‘surprisingly large’ energy savings in new study

In every green building project, designers put countless hours into developing a plan that not only limits the structure's demand on the grid but also reduces its reliance on natural resources. New research from the UC Davis Center for Water-Energy Efficiency now shows just how linked those two goals may be, finding reduced water usage can lead to substantial cuts in both energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions. To make this connection, researchers analyzed the effect of urban water usage limits mandated to counter California's ongoing drought. By reducing urban water usage by 25 percent between June 2015 and February of this year, the state saved about 922 gigawatt-hours of energy - enough to power 135,000 homes for an entire year, the LA Times reported. Plus, it saved an additional 220,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to taking about 50,000 cars off the road, according to GreenBiz. "Reduced water usage can lead to substantial cuts in both energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions."In fact, during peak summer months reducing water consumption alone saved as much energy as most other major energy efficiency programs in California combined, the LA Times reported. Further, water-related savings came with just one-third of the price tag compared . . . Read More

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On-Demand Efficiency (ODE) Program

Many multifamily buildings rely on central hot water systems serviced by inefficient, continuously running pumps, wasting gas, increasing electrical usage and reducing the life of the entire water distribution system.  Recognizing the significant savings opportunity, Benningfield Group designed a program for the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) called On-Demand Efficiency (ODE) that is FREE to qualifying SoCalGas customers. The program provides a free on-demand recirculation pump control for the building’s water heating system, as well as free installation. After the pump control is installed, recirculation is controlled based on demand in the building, rather than continuous recirculation. Residents can access hot water just as easily as if the system were running all day, every day. Depending upon the size of the building and the number of units, the gas and electrical savings can be considerable. Use of the controller also helps reduce greenhouse gases. So far, the ODE program has served over 3,200 apartment complexes with more than 104,000 individual units. The Benningfield Group works with manufacturers, distributors and contractors throughout the SoCalGas territory to administer the program. We also created a custom, online tracking database that allows us to track status, create reports, monitor inspections and store data relating to program . . . Read More

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BayREN Codes and Standards

The BayREN Codes and Standards program helps Bay Area counties reduce their energy usage through improved building design and construction. The collaborative program supplies local governments with the resources they need to achieve full compliance with and enforce the California Energy Code, including best practice guides, checklists, policy support, targeted training and on-site support. Benningfield Group supports the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and consulting firm BKI as a subcontractor on the project, implementing in-field and technical support. At the start of the project, our team focused on finding ways to help jurisdictions ensure compliance. We spent hours conducting interviews, participating in ride-alongs and reviewing project plans in an effort to determine both the key challenges to enforcing the energy code training, tools and guides that would benefit each county, then tracked their effectiveness as they were implemented. To ensure the performance of the program’s training offerings, we also conducted a region-wide survey, looking for gaps in understanding of the energy code and its enforcement. From this information, we worked with BayREN to develop several training programs that would address these specific issue areas. Our current focus is on the development and delivery of BayREN’s extensive building department training program, with a focus on . . . Read More

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Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) quality assurance accreditation program gives HVAC contractors a way to prove their competence to builders and homeowners. Designed by ACCA with contractor input, the quality assurance program focuses primarily on ANSI/ACCA standards, accrediting contractors who follow those standards when installing HVAC systems in new and existing residential buildings. Benningfield Group was responsible for creating a website and app that could collect and catalog data directly from contractors as they moved through the qualification process. To be effective, the systems had to be both user-friendly and robust. As contractors use the app to complete an installation checklist, the software provides guidance and assistance as appropriate. Once the checklist is complete, the app employs several internal error-checking methods before uploading the results to a database. As soon as the data is uploaded, the database performs further validation checks before automatically sending the information to various stakeholders (e.g., HVAC contractor, ACCA Program Administrator, etc.) for review. Working with ACCA, Benningfield Group put its experience in both software development and energy efficiency into creating the infrastructure for this important project. This unique position allowed us not only to leverage the expertise of our talented software team, but also to . . . Read More

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John Stuckert

As the Marketing Associate, John supports the marketing, and proposal development efforts for the company. By channeling his creativity and passion for graphic design, he creates, edits, and monitors all written materials for branding/format consistency, and compliance. He also develops marketing collateral for each business unit, and is responsible for the website content. Prior to joining Benningfield Group, John has held marketing and business development positions for an engineering company, a financial services consulting firm, and a homeowner’s association. He is also a freelance graphic designer, specializing in custom birthday and wedding invitations. John holds a Master of Business Administration from California State University Sacramento, a Bachelor of Science in Business (with a concentration in Marketing) from San Francisco State University, and an Online Award of Completion in Graphic Design from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He is currently in the process of completing an Associate of Arts in Applied Art and Design from Sierra College. When he is not at work, John loves spending time with his wife and two daughters. He also enjoys discovering new wines in Amador and Napa, downhill skiing in Lake Tahoe, photography, golf, and attempting to learn the bass guitar. Read More

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Roy Eads

Serving as a Senior Technical Manager, Roy brings a wide breadth of knowledge to the Benningfield Group team. Possessing a passion to improve the understanding and implementation of building energy efficiency, he understands the needs of industry stakeholders and seeks solutions to pass on to others. Roy recently joined Benningfield Group after spending 27 years in the construction industry as a restoration contractor and business owner. He began focusing on building energy efficiency in 2006, and has served as a HERS rater, Title 24 energy consultant, and residential mechanical designer. Working directly with contractors in the field, Roy quickly became aware of the need for energy education throughout the trades. As an adjunct professor at College of the Desert, he was instrumental in the creation of the first Zero Net Energy (ZNE) A.S. Degree program in the California Community College system, and hopes to implement the program state wide. Roy has earned A.S. Degrees in both Construction Management and HVAC, as well as a Certificate of Building Inspection Technology from College of the Desert, Palm Desert. He possesses multiple California Contractors Licenses and industry certifications, including HERS Rater, BPI Building Analyst, and CABEC Certified Energy Analyst. Roy has served on the Board . . . Read More

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Kim Hogan

  As a Senior Technical Manager at the Benningfield Group, Kim Hogan plays an integral role in helping us certify energy professionals. A Certified Energy Auditor and energy consulting veteran herself, Kim is intimately familiar with California's Energy Codes and Standards, making her the perfect candidate to develop tests that measure the skills and knowledge of professionals seeking recognition. Kim's tireless effort ensures design and construction professionals are educated at the high standard required for consistent building energy compliance. While precise in her understanding of the Energy Standards, Kim is also committed to helping clients achieve their goals outside of compliance. Her careful listening and analytical research skills help her excel in this area as well. Kim is currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture, where she is focusing on developing skills in Building Information Modeling. Outside of her professional endeavors, Kim volunteers in a public Bible literacy and teaching program. She also enjoys spending quiet moments gardening, sewing and reading. Read More