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  • Writer's pictureCorey L. Wilson

ENERGY Code Compliance Measures For Facilities

Updated: Nov 29, 2023



Throughout this chapter, California will be the role model and example. If your facility is not located in a zero net energy driven state like California, it may not be too far behind or already in the process of achieving similar goals and measures. As the leader in the nation on environmental stewardship, energy reduction, sustainability, and green building standards, California has set an ambitious goal in accomplishing these objectives starting with Assembly Bill 32: California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. From this progressive legislation, California has developed and approved the CALGreen Code, Zero Net Energy and Assembly Bills 758, 802, 2514 and 2868 as well as Senate Bill 350 requirements. AB 32 requires California to reduce its GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020—a reduction of approximately 15 % below emissions expected under a “business as usual” scenario. When Gov. Brown took over, he and the California Energy Commission (CEC) had a much bigger ambition to set Zero Net Energy (ZNE) goals above and beyond AB 32 requirements by reducing GHG emissions for all new and existing commercial buildings to 40 % below 1990 levels by the year 2030. Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Standards and Challenges In 2008 the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) issued its Zero Net Energy (ZNE) goals for all new residential construction by 2020 and for commercial buildings by 2030. California’s Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Standard is already in place through the state’s energy and green building standards codes (Title 24 Parts 6 & 11) to achieve the 2020 and 2030 ZNE construction targets. The 2013 Energy Code will reach 70% of the residential ZNE goal, the 2016 Energy Code 85% and the 2019 Energy Code will meet the 100% goal of ZNE. By 2030 every new school is supposed to be a zero net energy building. A Zero-Energy Building, also known as a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) building, Net-Zero Energy Building (NZEB), or Net Zero Building, is a building with zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site. These buildings still produce greenhouse gases because on cloudy (or non-windy) days, at night when the sun isn't shining, and on short winter days, therefore, conventional grid power is still the main energy source. Because of this, most zero net energy buildings still get half or more of their energy from the grid. Buildings that produce a surplus of energy over the year may be called "energy-plus buildings" and buildings that consume slightly more energy than they produce are called "near-zero energy buildings" or "ultra-low energy houses". To help attain these ZNE measures, California requires their existing buildings to be energy efficient. To ensure attainment of these goals, CALGreen building code requirements were adopted by the California Building Commission (CBC), and included in modified Part 11, of the Title 24 building code. To summarize the California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, the state has ambitious goals for the development of zero net energy buildings. These include:

  • All new residential construction will be zero net energy (ZNE) by 2020.

  • All new commercial construction will be ZNE by 2030

  • 50% of commercial buildings will be retrofit to ZNE by 2030

  • 50% of new major renovations of state buildings will be ZNE by 2025.

  • AB 32 – The Global Warming Solutions Act

  • AB 758 – Comprehensive Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings Law

  • AB 802 – Mandatory Energy Benchmarking & Disclosure

  • SB 350 – Clean Energy & Pollution Reduction Act

  • AB 2514 – Energy Storage

The CPUC released a draft Commercial Zero Net Energy Action Plan (Commercial ZNE Plan) in December 2017. A prior Commercial ZNE Plan was finalized in June 2011, but the updated plan will align with changes to the market and state policies such as better integration of distributed energy resources into the grid and a decline in the cost of solar generation and energy storage. The new Commercial ZNE Plan will add zero net energy for “multi-building projects, campuses and large-scale developments.” The new draft also looks at how existing buildings can attain zero net energy use. California also has a goal that 50 percent of all existing commercial structures will achieve zero net energy use by 2030. AB 758 – Comprehensive Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings Law California has implemented a groundbreaking law, AB 758 that requires all existing buildings that fall significantly below Title 24 to improve their efficiency. This first-of-its-kind legislation has the potential to dramatically reduce the amount of energy and electricity that buildings consume and could be a model for the rest of the country. More than half of California’s 13 million residential buildings and over 40% of commercial structures were built before the implementation of Title 24 in 1978. According to the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) “cost effective” estimates, the new law could reduce projected electricity use by 9% and projected natural gas use by 6% in California, which translates to $4.5 billion dollars in consumer savings. AB 758 requires the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop and implement a comprehensive program to achieve cost-effective energy savings in the state’s existing residential and nonresidential building stock that fall significantly below the efficiency required by the current version of Title 24. The law also requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to investigate the ability of each electrical and gas corporation to provide various energy efficiency financing options to their customers for the purposes of implementing the program. Change is inevitable and planning for AB 758 as early as possible is the first step in successfully managing it. Seeking assistance, at a minimal cost, from a qualified consultant to perform a sustainable facilities assessment and develop an action plan for meeting AB 758 requirements can save energy costs, prevent lost opportunities, and avoid future aggravation. An assessment and action plan can also create high performance building operations and sustainable systems that allow facility and property managers to do more with less and be the enablers of their own success. California’s Green Building Code (CALGreen) The purpose of the California Green Building Code (CALGreen for short), Part 11 of Title 24, is to improve public health, safety and general welfare by enhancing the design and construction of buildings through the use of building concepts having a reduced or negative impact on energy usage or a positive environmental impact that encourages sustainable construction practices for most all building types. Among the new requirements under CALGreen, every new building in California will have to reduce water consumption by 20%, divert 50% of construction waste from landfills and install low VOC materials. Separate indoor and outdoor water meters for non-residential buildings and moisture-sensing irrigation systems for large landscape projects will be required. There will be mandatory inspections of energy systems, such as furnaces and air conditioners for non-residential buildings over 10,000 square feet. According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the mandatory provisions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3,000,000 metric tons by 2020. Although CALGreen was initially developed for new construction, lackluster new building starts in the Great Recession economy blunted the code’s influence. To fix this problem a new section of Chapter 5, Division 5.7 – Additions & Alteration to Existing Non-Residential Buildings was added, and now widens the 2019 CALGreen’s focus to include existing buildings. Regarding school construction, CALGreen is required for any new campus that’s built and entire campuses that are rebuilt. The trigger for existing buildings is when a project has a minimum of 1,000 sf. of construction and a minimum cost of $200,000 for remodels, additions and alterations. Only buildings above those levels have to meet CALGreen Code requirements. The City of Los Angeles led this effort to include existing commercial buildings in their local amendments to the 2010 CALGreen Code because approximately 90% of the impact for green construction is going to be realized in existing buildings through remodels, additions and alterations. AB 802 – Mandatory Energy Benchmarking & Disclosure In October 2015, the State of California passed AB 802 (that replaced existing Energy Use Disclosure Law AB 1103 effective January 1, 2016) to provide building owners access to their building energy use data from utilities, and to track consumption in their buildings. The purpose of AB 802 is to help building owners, tenants, and others better understand the energy consumption of their buildings through standardized energy use metrics. Under the new program, a utility must maintain energy usage data for all buildings served by that utility for at least the most recent 12 complete calendar months. A utility would need to provide the benchmark data to a building owner or operator within four weeks of a request. In addition, AB 802 requires the CEC to develop regulations to govern the delivery of benchmark data to the CEC and the public disclosure of such data. For building owners and managers, there are five important data points when reviewing and understanding AB 802:

  • Non-residential and multi-family buildings over 50,000 sq. ft. (with certain exceptions).

  • Multi-family buildings over 50,000 sq. ft. and with 17 or more dwelling units.

  • Owners must report their ENERGY STAR score to the California Energy Commission every two years.

  • The initial reporting period for non-residential building was June 1, 2018. After that, fines can be levied as noted below.

  • The first reporting period for multi-family starts April 1, 2019 with data due by June 1, 2019. After that, fines can be levied as noted below.

Energy Reporting (And Use) Law Enforcement in California If you have not benchmarked your building in California yet, you’ll need to do so quickly. The challenges owners and operators may be facing include: Fines: According to the bill’s Section 1685 Violations, penalties for non-compliance include, “A Civil penalty to be $500-$2,000 per day for each category of data the person did not provide and for each day the violation has existed and continues to exist.” In this case, a “category of data” typically means each energy type and/or meter. The Energy Commission will provide the owner a 30-day grace period to report once notified of a violation. Obtaining the Data: Obtaining consumption data can be a very difficult and tedious process, especially if there are multiple meters and/or tenants within a building. If the meter data is unavailable from a tenant, you’ll need to contact your local utility provider for that information. The utility provider is required by law to provide the data, but there is no guarantee when and in what format you will receive it. This can cause delays in reporting, so to avoid missing any critical deadlines, collecting utility data should be your top priority. Finding Time to Report: Several hours are required to fulfill the reporting requirement. This includes identifying all buildings that qualify for energy benchmarking, identifying all meters, and entering all the data and meter information accurately. Falling Below Standards: What if your building falls below the national benchmarking standard? If this is the case, you’re likely wasting money through excessive energy consumption. Even if your building falls below the ENERGY STAR score of 75 (75th percentile of like kind buildings across the nation, and the baseline minimum set by the State of California), you’re still in compliance with the bill just for having reported your utility data. However, owners/operators in buildings that fall below the 75th percentile of their peer group will receive information and resources from the State on how to improve energy profiles. If you learn your building is unnecessarily costing you money, you’ll want to assess the best approach of reducing those identified expenses. Newly Designed/Constructed Buildings: These are generally aligned towards State compliance. Buildings that are in design and construction may receive favorable energy reports when utilizing state approved compliance software. However, these simulations do not accurately reflect hours of operation and occupant behavior. SB 350 – Clean Energy & Pollution Reduction Act Lastly, California approved SB 350: Clean Energy & Pollution Reduction Act approved in 2015 that requires the state to double statewide energy efficiency savings in electricity and natural gas end uses by 2030 and create a building energy-use benchmarking and disclosure program. SB 350 is considered the most significant climate and clean energy legislation since the passage of AB 32: California Global Warming Solutions Act that set the statewide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In addition, AB 32 directed and authorized various state agencies to engage in actions necessary to achieve this goal. Building off of AB 32, SB 350 established California’s 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 % below 1990 levels. To achieve this goal, SB 350 sets ambitious 2030 targets for energy efficiency and renewable electricity, among other actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. SB 350 will greatly enhance the state’s ability to meet its long-term climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 % below 1990 levels by 2050. AB 2514 – Energy Storage Assembly Bill (AB) 2514 is California’s landmark legislation that will create a smarter, cleaner electric grid, increase the use of renewable energy, save Californians money by avoiding costly new power plants, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollutants through the use of energy storage technologies by utility companies. The 2012 bill requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to open proceedings to establish Investor Owned Utility (IOU) procurement targets for viable and cost-effective Energy Storage Systems (ESS) to be achieved by December 31, 2015, and an additional target to be achieved by December 31, 2020. A Publicly Owned Utility (POU) would have comparable requirements and would be required to develop plans to maximize shifting of electricity use for air-conditioning and refrigeration from peak demand periods to off peak periods. City/County/Municipal Energy Efficiency Ordinances and Regulations As building efficiency improvements become more affordable, they are also becoming law. California cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose and Berkeley have all enacted ordinances requiring commercial and multi-family buildings to report their annual energy usage. Many states have also implemented state-wide programs, such as California’s AB 802, that require energy disclosure and audit reports to be completed. The Los Angeles Department of Building Safety (LADBS) has released a notice regarding the Existing Buildings Energy and Water Efficiency Ordinance (EBEWE). The purpose of this ordinance is to reduce energy and water consumption in existing buildings in the City of Los Angeles. The ordinance requires existing commercial and multi-family buildings to be benchmarked, audited, retrofitted, and/or retro-commissioned. These efficiency improvements will lower the use of energy, water and greenhouse gas emissions citywide. Benchmarking through Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager software is required for both city- and state-wide legislature, and the Energy Star score reveals big opportunities for energy savings. Benchmarking is becoming common practice not only in the law, but also in making financial and business decisions. Many states and cities are in the process of implementing programs and the great majority of them rely upon EPA’s Portfolio Manager to assess operating performance. For your city’s particular ordinances and energy reporting requirements, please visit the Appendix at Existing Building Energy and Water Efficiency Ordinance (EBEWE) Update. Today is the twelfth of 15 installments of the 15 chapters of the second edition of ENERGY Cost Savings For Facilities, by Corey L. Wilson, that will will be presented each week in this newsletter. Each chapter is approximately 3 to 4 pages long covering essential info every FM should know about concerning energy cost savings for their facilities. If you can't wait until the last chapter, you can purchase the guidebook right now by following the instructions below.

ENERGY Cost Savings For Facilities Available in epub, pdf, and paperback versions for $7.99, $14.99 and $24.99. Excellent resource and textbook for facilities and operatons managers, energy industry professionals, sustainability workforce development, educators and students. CHAPTERS 1 – An ENERGY Savings Introduction For Facilities 2 – Your Facilities’ Electrical ENERGY Future is Now 3 – Electrical ENERGY Saving Systems For Facilities 4 – Potential ENERGY Cost Savings For Facilities 5 – Sustainable ENERGY Buildings Plans For Facilities 6 – ENERGY & Buildings Management Software For Facilities 7 – ENERGY Surveys, Inspections, Audits & Commissioning For Facilities 8 – Facilities ENERGY Benchmarking Using Portfolio Manager 9 – ENERGY Efficient Lighting For Facilities 10 – ENERGY Efficient HVACR Systems For Facilities 11 – California’s Time-of-Use ENERGY Rate Changes For Facilities 12 – ENERGY Code Compliance Measures For Facilities 13 – ENERGY Storage Batteries and Beyond For Facilities 14 – Utilizing an ENERGY Savings Plan Budget For Facilities 15 – Implementing an ENERGY Storage System For Facilities

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