Don’t Be Left in the Dark with the 2020 New Energy Codes

Don’t Be Left in the Dark with the 2020 New Energy Codes

California’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards are updated on an approximately three-year cycle. The 2019 update is designed to improve the energy standards from the 2016 cycle for new construction of, and additions and alterations to, residential and nonresidential buildings.

To learn more about how innovative, energy-efficient design helped AffirmedHousing achieve a net zero community, CLICK HERE to read more about Arbor Green, pictured above.

California’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards are updated on an approximately three-year cycle. The 2019 update is designed to improve the energy standards from the 2016 cycle for new construction of, and additions and alterations to, residential and nonresidential buildings.

Here’s a listing of what’s new for building permit applications submitted on or after January 1, 2020

 

Low rise residential 3-stories or less: 30% – 35% more efficient from 2016 code – According to the California Energy Commission Initial approximate cost $9,500 per unit.

Most significant change is the introduction of photovoltaics – requirement to reduce approximately 46% of energy use:

1. Battery storage will help reduce PV system size close to 25%.

 

The following standards to reduce approximately 7% of energy use:

2. Automated demand response thermostat and lighting controls capability per current code to system installation.

3. Higher performance furnace filters (MERV 13, 2” minimum) resulting in larger return air registers and possible lower ceilings.

4. Due to larger return air registers, furnace will either need to be a horizontal unit located in the hallway soffit with return grill in ceiling or a vertical closet with the return air grill below. If vertical, unit square footages will be impacted.

5. New fan efficacy requirements for furnace fan and small ducts. Ducts are often undersize, larger ducts and soffit will be required to meet efficacies.

6. Strengthen insulation requirements:

  1. Insulation for R-410a refrigerant heat pump systems increased from .5″ to 1″
  2. Insulation below roof decks increased from R-13 to R-19
  3. Opaque doors connected between conditioned and exterior/unconditioned spaces now must meet maximum NFRC rated factor of 0.20 (i.e. R-5 insulated door)
  4. Wall and Roof/ceiling insulation improvements

7. Doors with 25% or more glass are now treated as fenestration.

8. Fenestration U-factor improved to U-Factor 0.30, SHGC 0.23

9. Refrigerant line insulation increases from ½” to 1”. It appears there is no insulation increase for domestic water lines.

10. All lighting must now be 3500K or less and dimmable.

11. HVAC system efficiency improvements 5 Ton or more systems.

12. Domestic hot water boiler system efficiency along with solar hot water roof piping pre-heat

13. Additional field testing and verifications of system compliance (mandatory blower door testing and prescriptive QII).

 

Non-residential and residential 4-stories or more: 20% more efficient from 2016 code – Construction cost increase unknown at this time.

1. Higher performance furnace filters (MERV 13, 2-inch minimum) resulting in larger return air registers and possible lower ceilings.

2. Strengthen insulation requirements in exterior walls such as:

  1. Improved U-factor for wood exterior walls (typical compliance method for 2×6 will be R-19+R-5 insulation).
  2. Improved U-factor for metal framed walls (typical compliance method for 2×6 will be R-21+R-2 rigid insulation or R-19+R-4 rigid insulation. If rigid is not added more efficient systems like SEER 15 HVAC may be required.)
  3. Automated demand response thermostat and lighting controls capability per current code to system installation.

3. Indoor and outdoor lighting upgrades to reduce 30% of energy use. For example, track lighting will require 30 w/sq/ ft/ if no current limiter. If current limiter is installed, then max wattage can be applied.

4. Refrigerant line insulation increases from ½” to 1”. It appears there is no insulation increase for domestic water lines.

5. Additional field testing and verifications of system compliance (see below)

6. Increased ventilation requirements under ASHRAE 62.2-2016, including:

  1. No natural ventilation.
  2. Balanced systems OR continuous ventilation + blower door testing.
  3. Ventilation fans cannot exceed 10% of ASHRAE 62.2 minimum requirements.
  4. Range hoods must be HERS tested and must provide a minimum of 100 CFM and maximum of 3.0 sones.

7. CO2 sensors required in high density spaces (40 sq. ft. / person). The HVAC system will be connected to CO2 monitoring and more air will be introduced based on demand. This will require additional controls.

8. Parking garages exhaust fan efficiency increase for fans that are 5 HP and above.

 

Note: The above energy measures come mostly from the prescriptive method. The performance approach uses an approved software program to model a proposed whole building and compare it to a calculated energy budget. Performance compliance is based on window efficiency and orientation, shading from overhangs, space-conditioning equipment and water-heating efficiencies, and house orientation. This approach is popular with production builders because of its flexibility and it provides a way to find the most cost-effective solution for complying with the Energy Standards.