Since the 1970s, California has led the way in building and energy efficiency policy. Being Title 24 compliant isn’t only good for California, it brings new services, technology, and products to market that the entire world benefits from. The power of being title 24 compliant is further amplified because California is the fifth-largest economy in the world (recently passing the U.K.)
During the 1970s, ecology and energy conservation concerns were mostly either ignored or a hotly debated political subject. This was long before ‘green friendly’ was a widespread concept. But even then, California was a true leader concerned with the state’s skyrocketing energy consumption and the unlikely ability of the energy infrastructure to keep up with demand.
The California Title 24 Effect
The California Building Standards Commission created Title 24 in 1978. Throughout the years, it has been updated with increasingly robust efficiency and environmental requirements, mandates, and executive orders. Although slowly in the early years, Title 24 compliance now heavily influences policy worldwide. As a result, the design and manufacture of energy-efficient products are available in nearly every part of the U.S. and around the world. Besides being ‘green friendly,’ California is an economy of scale.
As the world’s fifth-largest economy, California’s requirements cannot be ignored. Building designers and product manufacturers wanting to do business in California must train to be Title 24 compliant. Once a product is manufactured to meet California’s specifications, it makes no financial sense for manufactures to make one version of products for California and a different version for other states and countries. Especially when others consistently look to California for leadership in the green evolution. Once a regulation is introduced in California, the probability is very high that the same standards will be replicated and introduced in more states within a few years or less. Title 24 compliant designs and products do not cost more. They have become the standard for design and manufacturing.
Importantly, Title 24 is not an optional certification. Unlike the well-known Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, Title 24 is part of the state’s building code – compliance isn’t an option. And the reality is that Title 24 works.
The Financial Benefits of Being Title 24 Compliant
New Title 24, Part 6 standards officially took effect on January 1, 2020. However, building designers, builders, solar companies, and other stakeholders were preparing for these changes long before it became mandatory. In California, it is a routine part of doing business.
The most recent changes to Title 24 increase energy efficiency, save consumers money, and improve air quality both indoors and outdoors. The update requires homebuilders to install solar photovoltaic systems on all new homes. This makes California the first state in the U.S. to have a solar mandate. The changes also have new efficiency standards for insulation in attics, walls, and windows to save additional energy. Although not required, the standards encourage battery storage and heat pump water heaters. Both of these decrease energy usage during peak hours.
To quantify costs, the California Energy Commission (CEC) ordered an independent study for overall cost savings for homeowners over the course of a 30-year mortgage. The consultant study (by Energy and Environmental Economics or E3) found that revised Title 24 requirements would result in net savings for homeowners. However, there is also an increase in new home construction costs that averages $9,500 (in 2018 dollars). But homeowners’ savings will be much greater at $19,000 throughout a 30-year mortgage. This is still an immediate financial benefit to homeowners because mortgage costs are estimated to increase $40 per month while the offset savings is double that at $80 each month on heating and electricity.
Beyond the near-term financial savings, Title 24 compliance will significantly improve air quality. The independent study estimates that more than 74,000 homes will be built in 2020 meeting the solar and other new requirements. Of course, many more homes will also be built to these specifications in the future. In the first year alone, energy savings are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 114,019 tons. That’s the equivalent of 5.7 million trees to remove the same amount of CO2 from the air.
Thus, all of this reinforces why California Title 24 continues to be the “gold standard” for building codes, energy efficiency, performance requirements, sustainable energy designs, and much more.