SACRAMENTO - New energy efficiency building standards have gone into effect in California that are expected to 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 of the California Energy Commission (CEC).

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 component of the latest standards. Also, several changes are designed to make HVAC systems more efficient in both residential and nonresidential buildings.

Whenever new HVAC equipment is installed, the standards require ductwork to be inspected and sealed to correct any significant leaks in existing ducts.

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

For more information on the Title 24 Energy Efficiency Building Standards, visit

Publication date: 10/24/2005