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Energy Commission Continues March Toward Zero Net Energy With 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards

Also funds several grants through the Electric Program Investment Charge

The California Energy Commission unanimously approved building energy efficiency standards that will reduce energy costs, save consumers money, and increase comfort in new and upgraded homes and other buildings.

Single family homes built with the Energy Commission's 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards will use about 28 percent less energy for lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and water heating than those built to the 2013 standards.

"The best way to create a high-performing building is to design and build it that way in the first place," said Commissioner Andrew McAllister, who is the Energy Commission's lead on energy efficiency. "With the adoption of the 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, we are one step closer to the state’s 2020 zero net energy goal, where a building produces as much energy as it consumes. With features such as high performance attics and walls, instantaneous water heaters, and highly efficient lighting, new homes will consume energy at a level that could be met by on-site solar or other renewable generation."

The standards, which take effect on Jan. 1, 2017, focus on three key areas: updating residential requirements to move closer to California’s zero net energy goals, updating nonresidential and high-rise residential requirements, and improving the clarity and consistency of existing regulations. Based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that standards will add about $11 per month for the average home, but save consumers $31 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills.

"With this adoption, the Energy Commission has established a solid balance between the need to reduce energy consumption with the need to limit increased construction costs," said California Building Industry Association CEO and President Dave Cogdill. "We thank the Commissioners and their staff for working with industry during the past 18 months on this effort."

In addition to simplifying the language, other major improvements include:


  • High performance attics: extra insulation at the roof deck in addition to ceiling insulation will reduce the attic temperature by 35 degrees or more during hot summer days.
  • High performance walls: builders can choose from many different assemblages to reduce heating and cooling needs in the home year round.
  • Lighting: installation of high quality lighting with controls that nearly halve the energy required for lights in new homes.
  • Water heating: installation of tankless water heaters that reduce use by about 35 percent.


  • Envelope: revision of outer building, or envelope, requirements for all nonresidential and high-rise residential buildings.
  • Lighting: update power for lights to align with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards.
  • Elevators: require lights and fans to shut off when an elevator is empty.
  • Escalators and moving walkways: require escalators and moving walkways in transit areas to run at a lower, less energy-consuming speed when not in use.
  • Windows and doors: require lockout sensors that turn off cooling and heating systems if a door or window is left open for more than five minutes.

For more information about the 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards view the frequently asked questions and infographic.


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