New California Energy Code Sets Provisions for Residential Buildings

June 7th, 2012 by DWM Magazine

The California Energy Commission has passed an energy efficiency code that includes several provisions related to residential construction.

Among the revised requirements is a provision that states window products and exterior doors that are not field-fabricated “may be installed only if the manufacturer has certified to the Commission, or if an independent certifying organization approved by the Commission has certified that the product complies with all of the applicable requirements of this subsection.”

The subsection goes on to list requirements for air leakage, solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) and labeling. The fenestration product’s U-factor shall be rated in accordance with NFRC 100 while the SHGC shall be rated in accordance with NFRC 200. The visual transmittance shall be rated in accordance with NFRC 200 or ASTM E972.

The code also includes mandatory requirements to limit air leakage and states that any “potential sources of air leakage shall be caulked, gasketed, weatherstripped or otherwise sealed to limit infiltration.”

The code requires newly constructed residential buildings to follow performance standards or energy budgets based upon its regional climate zone, but there is an exception.

“If a single contiguous subdivision or tract falls in more than one climate zone, all buildings in the subdivision or tract may be designed to meet the performance or prescriptive standards for the climate zone that contains 50 percent or more of the dwelling units,” according to the efficiency code.

The goal of the new standards is to make buildings in California more energy-efficient thereby reducing energy costs and pollution, according to the CEC.

“Improving the energy efficiency of buildings in which we will live and work will save Californians energy for decades,” says energy commissioner Karen Douglas. “These standards will help save consumers money on their utility bills, keep them comfortable in their homes, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through better, more efficient buildings.”

The Energy Commission is required by law to adopt standards for homeowners over the 30-year lifespan of buildings for all buildings except hospitals, nursing homes, correctional centers, jails and prisons. The standards are periodically updated and adopted by local cities or county building departments, which also enforce the building standards, according to the CEC website.

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