April 13, 2020 Kevin Zhu

What’s New in Title 24?

Kevin Chris Zhu is Verdical Group’s Sustainability Intern. Kevin is a LEED AP BD+C accredited professional, holds a B.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering and is currently wrapping up a M.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering with an Atmosphere/Energy Program, Sustainability and Energy Focus at Stanford University.

Here is a simple question for everyone:

Which state was the first to establish an energy regulation commission, and what’s the name of the very first minimum energy efficiency standard implemented?

Yes, you are certainly right! The answer is California and its renowned Building Energy Efficiency Standards.

The California Energy Commission’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards, also referred to as Title 24 (Part 6) by many, have continued to evolve since its first adoption in 1976. Every three years, the code is updated to place California at the forefront of energy efficiency and sustainability. The 2019 standards that went into effect on January 1, 2020 brought significant changes to residential and nonresidential buildings. Statewide, Title 24 standards have helped to reduce energy waste, inefficiency, and enhance both outdoor and indoor environmental quality for all new building construction and additions, as well as existing building modifications.

Within Title 24 there are separate codes for:

  • Low-rise residential: multifamily buildings with less than or equal to three habitable stories
  • Non-residential buildings: nonresidential, high-rise residential or hotel/motel buildings with more than three habitable stories

In this blog post, we will focus on the new updates to the non-residential building category.

What are the compliance paths?

Before jumping into the details of the new 2019 standards, for us green building practitioners, it’s important to understand the two methods to fulfill code requirements in Title 24: prescriptive and performance.

The prescriptive path allows projects to meet a predetermined minimum efficiency requirement in the Title 24 code for each component of the proposed building. This approach offers little flexibility but is easy to use due to a clear cutoff line for requirements.

With the performance path, you can opt for greater design flexibility and explore more cost-effective solutions for each building component than with the prescriptive approach. The catch is that the design team must base all the efficiency calculations on a compliant energy simulation model, which can be time-consuming to say the least.  

However, with either the prescriptive or performance compliance paths, there are mandatory measures that always must be met. Mandatory measures include infiltration control, lighting systems, minimum insulation levels, and equipment efficiency. The minimum mandatory levels are sometimes superseded by more stringent prescriptive or performance requirements.

Title 24 2019: Non-Residential Changes

Focusing on improving energy efficiency, updates have been made to all mechanical, envelope, covered process, and lighting systems. In non-residential buildings, the standards update indoor and outdoor lighting, making maximum use of LED technology. The standards further enable the use of highly efficient air filters to trap hazardous particulates from both outdoor air and cooking and improve kitchen ventilation systems. Additional changes focus on building structural strength, stability, and other requirements to safeguard the health and safety of the occupants.

Together, the California Energy Commission expects future non-residential buildings following the 2019 Standards to use 30 percent less energy than those built under the 2016 Standards.

Some of the most significant changes include:

What does this mean for you?

Pursuing an energy-efficient building design with the new codes can almost guarantee savings from monthly energy costs in the short term and avoid surcharges to build new energy plants in the long term.

With numerous exciting Title 24 updates also comes corresponding adjustments in building design and construction routines. We know it’s challenging to adapt to all these new changes. With the new codes, the need for support and education is greater than ever. You are certainly not alone, and with many years of experience in Title 24 compliance consulting, Verdical Group is here to help answer any questions you may have. Contact us to learn more about our services, or simply to ask a quick question about how the changes may impact your project.