The B&D Interview: Drew Bohan, Executive Director, California Energy Commission

Executive Director Bohan gives us a preview of what to expect from the latest updates to Title 24 standards

Builder and Developer: What are the biggest changes coming to Title 24 Standards for home energy efficiency?

Drew Bohan: The 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and focus on four key areas: smart residential photovoltaic systems, updated thermal envelope standards (ex. a tight and well-insulated building shell), ventilation to ensure high air quality, and nonresidential lighting. Together, these measures will ensure that indoor spaces both protect the health of occupants and use less energy than comparable older buildings.

The standards also encourage demand- responsive technologies, including smart controls, thermal storage, and batteries. Additionally, the standards give the all- electric home its own compliance pathway, independent from that for dual-fuel homes.

All of these elements will benefit the homeowner and ensure that buildings contribute to the resilience of the distribution grid itself.

B&D: How will the solar mandate affect new homes built in 2019?
DB: Single-family homes built with the 2019 standards will use about seven percent less energy, due to energy efficiency measures, versus those built under the 2016 standards. Once rooftop solar electricity generation is factored in, homes built under the 2019 standards will use about 53 percent less energy than those under the 2016 standards.

Homeowners will also save from day one on their utility bills. Based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that the updated standards will add a total of about $40 per month for the average home, but will also save consumers a total of $80 per month on heating, cooling, and lighting bills.

B&D: What can we expect to see this year with the State of California’s goal to achieve Net Zero Energy?
DB: The Energy Commission will begin the process for the 2022 Building Energy Efficiency Standards.

The focus will be on commercial and multifamily buildings. As we move forward with policy planning, we will continue to prioritize building energy characteristics
that help it produce and consume energy at times that are appropriate and respond to the needs of the grid, which reduces a building’s emissions.

B&D: What advice can you give to homebuilders who are adapting to the coming changes to Title 24 standards?

DB: We encourage builders to get involved, whether via the CBIA or directly with the Energy Commission.

The Energy Commission hosts several resources for builders on the Title 24 standards. Our Online Resource Center has training materials listed by topic. The videos, brochures, and fact sheets help the building community and enforcement agencies understand how to comply. We periodically host training sessions and also work with Energy Code Ace and the utilities to provide more training opportunities.

In addition, we have an Energy Standards Hotline to offer one-on-one help. You can reach this hotline by calling the toll-free number in California (800)772-3300 or by emailing Title24@energy.ca.gov.

Builders should also sign up for The Energy Commission’s free quarterly newsletter, Blueprint, to receive the most up-to-date information.

B&D: In what ways is the California Energy Commission helping to educate buyers to combat misinformation and worry about how the new standards will affect home pricing?

DB: While there are construction costs associated with the standards, new homeowners with rooftop solar photovoltaics will be cash positive starting on day one, since monthly energy bill savings will be significantly greater than the amount added to a monthly mortgage payment for the solar installation. Homeowners or builders also have the option of using power purchase agreements or leased solar systems, which have little or no initial cost and still provide savings because they offset the energy used in the home.

The standards also include a compliance option for community solar programs developed by utilities or communities that wish to pool resources instead of installing solar on individual homes.

The Energy Commission works with builders and building departments to ensure they understand Title 24 standards and know all the options that are available to them and to their consumers.

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