2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards highlights

February 1, 2016

With 2016 now underway, California's new building energy efficiency standards are slated to take effect in less than a year. The new code, unanimously approved by the California Energy Commission (CEC) in June 2015, sets out to reduce energy costs, save consumers money and increase comfort in new and upgraded homes and other buildings, all while moving close to the state's 2020 net zero energy goal.

"The new standards are expected to save homeowners $31 on monthly utilities."

The 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards seek to reduce energy usage for lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation and water heating by 28 percent compared to those built to 2013 standards, according to the CEC. While the cost of building to this code will cost homeowners approximately $11 each month (based on a standard 30-year mortgage), it is expected to save them $31 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills, the CEC estimates.

Specifically, the revised code calls for the following major improvements to residential buildings… 

  • High performance attics: Combined with ceiling insulation, extra insulation on the roof deck will reduce attic temperatures by as much as 35 degrees on hot days.
  • High performance walls: The standards outline several different insulation strategies builders can use to reduce heating and cooling needs.
  • Lighting: High quality lighting systems will include controls that cut energy requirements in half for lights in new homes.
  • Water heating: New water heating technology will forgo tanks and improve distribution to provide hot water with 35 percent less energy.

…and the following improvements to nonresidential buildings:

  • Envelope: Outer building requirements for all nonresidential and high-rise residential buildings have been revised. 
  • Elevators: Fans and lights in empty elevators to turn off automatically.
  • Escalators: When not in use, escalators and moving walkways will run at a slower, low-power speed.
  • Lighting: Adoption of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards for light power.
  • Windows and doors: Lockout sensors will turn off cooling and heating systems if a door or window is left open for more than five minutes.

For a more detailed list of the changes on the way, view the 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards in its entirety here