How not to get Trampled by the Building Department –part III

In a nutshell, the best way to not get trampled by the building department is to keep abreast of all of the CURRENT codes-no matter how confusing and time consuming that may be. Keep in mind that every 3 years, California Codes change substantially, particularly in the direction of green buildings. Knowledge is Power. If there is one thing people in the California Building Industry need to learn-it is that the California has legislated code changes beyond what the building department requires and these changes will be on going until all California Buildings-commercial, residential, new, existing-are Zero Net Energy and Low Carbon Footprint.

The average person in our industry has trouble just learning what these new terms mean let alone keeping up with all the code changes. Zero Net Energy can mean 4 different things:

  1. The building’s energy bills for an entire year are zero. Very few buildings fit into this type of Net Zero.
  2. The building was designed and energy modeled for a particular occupant’s actual use of the building in order to provide no energy bills over the course of a typical year. Some buildings meet this category of Net Zero.
  3. The building was designed with the general intent of substantially few energy bills based on guesses of how an average person might use the building under normal weather conditions. This is the category that new Residential Buildings in California must be designed to and new Commercial buildings in California will be required to be designed to in the near future.
  4. A building with lots of solar and some green features that some marketing agent hopes to attract greater buyer interest with. Hoping that lots of solar will make the whole subject go away misses out on making the building air tight (for real) and genuinely well insulated (going well beyond fiberglass between 6″ studs). This is not acceptable anymore and will lead to problems getting buildings built and problems later on when people start using their new buildings.

Low Carbon Footprint is a relatively new term that doesn’t just look at net zero energy bills. Actual reliable data is being gathered year by year to help people make intelligent choices about how much energy is involved in creating the materials, shipping the materials, and tearing the building apart at the end of it’s life. There is currently software available to help with this process-but there is still more to learn and more data to be collected. The 2022 Residential Code actually has Low Carbon Footprint requirements. Conserving water enters into Low Carbon Footprint, making Carbon Footprint a more useful way to look at the big picture when it comes to buildings. Someday, Carbon Footprints will apply to cars as well.

Here are some of my notes from attending a seminar on the 2022 Title 24 Residential Code. Even if architects and engineers don’t design residential–many of the changes in 2022 T24 Residential will start applying to 2025 Commercial Buildings. Eventually, these strict energy codes will wind up applying the existing buildings too.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close