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For Immediate Release: October 18, 2005
Media Contact: Rob Schlichting - 916-654-4989

New Energy Commission Building Standards
go into effect to cut energy use

Sacramento - New energy efficiency building standards went into effect in California on October 1, 2005 - standards that will reduce energy use in the state by an estimated 180 megawatts of electricity load and 8.8 million therms of natural gas each year.

"As the price of natural gas increases by as much as 50 percent this winter, energy efficiency is becoming ever more important to consumers as a way to control their heating bills," said Energy Commissioner Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, Presiding Member of the Efficiency Committee.

Title 24, the Energy Efficiency Building Standards, regulates construction of residential and nonresidential buildings. More efficient lighting for both homes and businesses is a major improvement of the latest Standards. Taking new technology into account, the Standards now call for high-efficacy lighting, which in many permanent fixtures means state-of-the-art fluorescent lighting. Also, several changes make heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems more efficient in both residential and nonresidential buildings.

Improvements and alterations to existing residential buildings also call for new replacement windows with improved glazings. Whenever new heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment is installed, the Standards require ductwork to be inspected and sealed to correct the inevitable large leaks in existing ducts. These measures help to reduce the use of both electricity and natural gas and help control energy bills.

When constructing new nonresidential buildings or replacing existing roofing, contractors will be required to install "cool roofs" - highly reflective, insulated roofing. Today nine out of 10 rooftops in California reach summer peak temperatures of 150 degrees to 190 degrees. That heat is often transmitted into the building or its attic, where air ducts are located; this raises the temperature and causes air conditioning equipment to work longer and harder. A cool roof can reduce those temperatures by as much as 50 degrees. That large temperature difference translates to a 20 percent reduction in air conditioning costs.

The updated Standards require "big box" nonresidential buildings to have skylights with controls to turn off electric lighting when natural daylight is available. For the first time, Title 24 sets standards for outside lighting and indoor and outdoor signage.

For schools, Title 24 specifically singles out portable classrooms, setting standards to make them more energy efficient and comfortable.

Many of the changes in the Standards are tailored to help reduce not only overall energy use, but peak energy use - electricity demand on hot summer days when air conditioning loads can cause the State's need for power to nearly double. The latest Standards will cut the State's peak energy use by more than 180 megawatts annually - enough electricity to power 180,000 average-sized California homes. Those energy savings are compounded from year to year, reaching more than 500 megawatts after three years.

The tighter regulations have the support of utilities, building industry representatives, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, among others. Mike Hodgson, speaking on behalf of the California Building Industry Association when the Standards were adopted by the Commission in 2003, referred to them as "the most thorough, thoughtful revision ever."

Information on the Title 24 Energy Efficiency Building Standards is available on the Energy Commission's website at


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