Success Story: California Dreams: Title 24 Energy Code On Target For Net Zero Energy Standards Goal By 2020

by Paul Karrer

In May 2012, California approved its next building energy code update, the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (BEES, also referred to as Title 24, Part 6), setting the stage to once again claim one of the most efficient energy codes in the nation. The update’s timing is considered crucial given California’s population growth projections of 12% over the next eight years and the significant additions to its building stock expected to follow. BCAP is proud to have been a part of adoption support process and to have been effective through direct outreach to organizations as well as through direct coordination with the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) between September 2011 and May 2012. BCAP staff attended and participated in the final adoption hearing and look forward to remaining involved as the state begins deployment of the new code in 2012 and 2013.

BCAP’s involvement began in September of 2011 after a meeting with Jamy Bacchus, who at the time worked at NRDC in the center of Energy Efficiency Standards. During the meeting, which included BCAP staffers Paul Karrer and Matt Kerns, Jamy went into detail concerning the pending update to Title 24, which was then slated to achieve greater than 30% residential and nonresidential energy efficiency gains compared to the 2008 BEES edition. It would also be the first update to progress towards California’s 2020 zero net energy goals for Title 24.

In October, shortly after BCAP’s meeting with NRDC, the CEC set an open comment period for organizations and businesses to comment on the proposed standards. After submitting a letter of support, BCAP quickly took the lead and mobilized energy code supporters and partner organizations to send additional letters. To improve turn-around time, BCAP created a support letter template that organizations could use to quickly edit and submit comments under their own letterhead. Through BCAP’s outreach, organizations such as Sierra Club, American Chemical Council, Environment America, and Dow Chemical all submitted letters in support of the Title 24 proposal.

All was quiet on the Western front until February 2012. CEC directly reached out to BCAP and NRDC to host and facilitate a pair of webinars that would educate stakeholders and industry players on what would be included in the update to Title 24. Panama Bartholomy, who was the Deputy Director of the Efficiency and Renewable Energy Division at CEC, requested that BCAP reach out to select Alliance to Save Energy associates, primarily building product manufacturers who held a vested interest in California markers. This would be one of two webinars that NRDC and BCAP would host, the other focusing on energy efficiency supporters. BCAP contacted 53 Alliance associates, 12 of which attended the webinar on February 15. For the webinar targeted at energy efficiency supporters on February 17, 43 participants attended. Panama Bartholomy presented the majority of the material during the webinar with contributions from Jamy Bacchus of NRDC and Maureen Guttman of BCAP.

Through this outreach, BCAP was connected with John McHugh of McHugh Energy Consultants, who connected with BCAP after seeing a document outlining the cash flow analysis for the state of Colorado and was interested in co-branding a similar two-page handout on the new Title 24 code. John Miller of BCAP worked closely with John McHugh to produce the cost increment and energy savings material. It was completed on March 11th and was distributed to interested parties. This allowed BCAP to serve as a source of information on the benefits on increased energy efficiency standards statewide.

Despite an overall high level of support in favor of the Title 24 update among stakeholders, state homebuilders started forming an opposition effort. After raising numerous questions during the October hearing, these stakeholders met with Governor Jerry Brown asking him to pressure the CEC to significantly weaken and/or delay the proposed changes. The issue was very time-sensitive because the CEC had to publish “15 day language” by April 23th in order to keep the CEC on track to approve new standards by the end of May in order to make the Building Standards Commission calendar for approval and publication of the 2013 code.

In response to the homebuilders meeting with the Governor Brown, BCAP began reaching out to the environmental partners and manufacturers that sent in comments and had participated in the webinars, asking them to send in additional comments supporting the efficiency gains of the proposed update. Making the process exponentially more difficult was the departures of Jamy Bacchus from NRDC and Panama Bartholomy of CEC from their previous positions. While their departures had nothing to do with the objections put forth by the homebuilders, the adoption support effort lost two of its greatest contributors. Quickly, BCAP took on even more responsibility and became one of the leaders in pushing for the adoption of the new code.
The outreach by BCAP helped save the update even though the homebuilders were able to win support for certain amendments to the proposal. The revised Title 24 would now achieve a 25% energy efficiency gain over the 2008 BEES, making it roughly 10% more efficient than the 2012 IECC.

In wake of Panama’s departure, BCAP remained in contact with the CEC, in particular with Martha Brooks and Adam Gottlieb. BCAP shared the code revisions and 15 day language with stakeholders and submitted the final comments and letter in support of the update. At the end of April, the CEC requested that BCAP attended the adoption hearing and testify in front of the Commission on the benefits of the code and how it would keep California at the forefront of building energy codes nationally.

John Miller and Matt Kerns of BCAP traveled to the Commission Business Meeting in Sacramento on May 31. Located in Sacramento, the hearing began with CEC staff clearly summarizing the highlights of the new code and the year-long process of formulating cost effectiveness and energy savings analyses. This was followed by a comment session in which Matt Kerns spoke for the allotted three minutes on the code’s cost effectiveness and its 17-month amortized payback period. The testimony also touched on how the code continues to maintain California’s role as leader and keeps it ahead of the nation in light of recent 2012 IECC adoptions in other states and jurisdictions. These comments were joined by others that were mostly positive, with some objections from specific product manufacturers.

The CEC unanimously adopted the amended proposal for the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards for residential and nonresidential buildings. As one of the commissioners remarked, this was a “herculean lift” and kept them on track to achieve their goal of meeting net zero energy standards for residential buildings in 2020 and commercial buildings in 2030.

In the aftermath of the adoption hearing, BCAP staffer John Miller and Matt Kerns met with Noah Horowitz of NRDC on how the two organizations can work together in California moving forward.