What’s New with California’s 2016 Title 24, Part 6 Energy Standards


by Gina Rodda & Sally Blair

The state of California has been a leader in building energy efficiency since the establishment of the energy code in 1978. In 2003, California adopted an Energy Action Plan which made energy efficiency the first choice in meeting the state’s future energy needs. Part of the “Big Bold Strategies” of this plan includes a goal that all new residential construction achieve zero net energy by 2020, commercial construction by 2030. The ambitious goals of this plan, as well as AB32 (California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 — legislation that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions), place an unprecedented reliance on mandatory building energy codes and standards.

Why the changes to the Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards and when will the 2016 code be required?

The CA Energy Commission (Energy Commission) re-visits and tightens the State’s building energy efficiency standards (Title 24 Part 6) every three years. The scale of the goals and challenges at hand prompt an accelerated strategy to make the codes cover more end uses and measures, while also becoming ever more stringent. The 2016 residential standards are projected to be 28% more energy stringent, and nonresidential 5% more.


The 2016 energy standards will affect projects that are submitted for building permit as of January 1, 2017 – more stringent, which means buildings being designed during 2016, that will go in for permit next year, will need to be designed to comply with the 2016 energy standards.


What are the real game changers in these new 2016 energy standards?

The Energy Commission has created an infographic that summarizes major changes to the residential and nonresidential energy standards, and Energy Code Ace has developed two fact sheets that go a little deeper:

  • What’s New: 2016 Residential Code • What’s New: 2016 Nonresidential Code


In our opinion, the significant “game changers” for residential and nonresidential buildings and systems are as follows:

Favorite resources:

  • 2016 Residential Envelope Chapter, 2016 Residential Compliance Manual
  • 2016 Nonresidential Envelope Chapter, 2016 Nonresidential Compliance Manual Although there are new mandatory wall insulation requirements (§120.7) and new prescriptive insulation requirements (§140.3) for nonresidential buildings, the game changer is residential envelope energy standards.
  1. Prescriptive High Performance Wall: In most climate zones above grade framed wall assemblies must not exceed a maximum U-factor of 0.051. Typical assemblies reaching this U-factor: § 2×4 wood walls: R-15 cavity + R-8 (2”) continuous
  • 2×6 wood walls: R-19 cavity + R-5 (1”) continuousLighting:
  1. Prescriptive High Performance Attic: The intention here is to avoid ducts located in attics that are not well insulated. There are 3 options to choose from (see Table 150.1-A for minimum R-value of insulation associated with each option).
  2. B. C.

Insulation at ceiling and above roof deck Insulation at ceiling and below roof deck Ducts and air handler within the conditioned space

Favorite Resources:

  • Residential Lighting: What’s New in the 2016 Title 24, Part 6 Code? (from California Lighting Technology Center through UC Davis (CLTC))
  • Nonresidential Lighting: What’s New in the 2016 Title 24, Part 6 Code? (from CLTC)

Nonresidential: Minimal changes such as Area Category LPD reductions, new multilevel controls options §130.1(b) and new auto shut-off controls §130.1(b). Lighting alterations requirements changed to add a new path for lighting control exceptions in §141.0(b):

  1. Reduce allowed Area Category LPD <85% then controls required include Area Controls §130.1(a) and; Multi Level §130.1(b) allows for 2 step control and; Shut-off controls §130.1(c)) or
  2. New! Reduce existing LPD by 50% (hotel, office and retail occupancies) or 35% (all other occupancies) then controls required include Area Controls §130.1(a) and Shut- off controls §130.1(c).

Residential §150.1(k): This game changer results in a simplification of requirements. All residential lighting must be high efficacy (both indoor and outdoor), and there are some new control requirements. What is consider high efficiency has changed to include lamp types previously defined as “low efficacy” such as screw based IF tested and packaged as “JA8-2016” per expanded criteria of Joint Reference Chapter 8 (JA8).


Favorite resources:

  • The covered process compliance forms: o Elevator

o Escalators/Moving Walkways •             15 Day Marked Up 2016 Energy Standards

Nonresidential: Again, minimal changes that include expanded DDC control requirements §120.2(j); optimum start/stop controls §120.2(k) and my favorite new control §140.4(n) in which operable openings left open more than 5 minutes include interlocks to disable or reset temperature setpoints to shut off heating and/or cooling. New covered process requirements including elevators, escalators and moving walkways in §120.6 addressing efficiency and controls.

Residential §150.1: Since the envelope requirements are addressing ducts in attic (in essence affecting HVAC design), the game changer is domestic hot water (DHW). New homes to install a gas tankless DHW, or if a gas tank DHW is really wanted, HERS QII and other distribution HERS measures are required prescriptively (still allowing for the option to trade via the performance method).

About Energy Code Ace

The California Statewide Codes & Standards Program’s EnergyCodeAce.com is designed to help building industry professionals and consumers meet the requirements of the state’s building energy code, Title 24, Part 6, and the Title 20 appliance standards. The site offers free tools, training and resources developed to “decode” these standards for the wide-range of people who need to understand them, including architects, engineers, building department personnel, lighting designers, builders, energy consultants, HVAC professionals, contractors, and building and homeowners, to name a few.

The suite of free tools available on EnergyCodeAce.com is designed to help you identify the forms, installation techniques, and standards relevant to building projects in California, and include:

  • Navigator AceTM – step-by-step guide to the Title 24, Part 6 compliance process
  •  Forms AceTM – web-based tool that aids in determining which compliance forms are applicable to your specific project; • Reference AceTM – helps you navigate the Standards using key word search capabilities, hyperlinked tables and related sections
  •  Installation AceTM – a “field guide” that uses an array of photographs along with easy-to-understand text to help you visualize and demonstrate correct installation of a number of residentialand nonresidential measures required by 2013 Title 24, Part 6
  •  Crack the Code Industry WorkshopsTM – downloadable packages designed to help building departments facilitate trainings for local installation contractors.

Free trainings offered by the program target a wide range of “hot topic” measures and audience groups, and are provided in a variety of formats, including:

  • Traditional classroom – available through sponsoring utility energy centers or at a location of your request;
  • Virtual classroom – delivered online in real-time by an instructor; Online self-study – allows you to take trainings at your convenience; and Decoding Talks –online facilitated discussions with industry professionals.

The site also offers a number of free resources to help facilitate effective implementation of California’s energy building code. These include:

  • Trigger Sheets – “Quick reference” component-by-component summaries of sections of Title 24, Part 6 “triggered” based on project scope;
  • Fact Sheets – “Quick reference” summaries of key requirements, forms, definitions and resources for implementing Title 24, Part 6;
  • Checklists – Step-by-step guidance for plans checks and field inspections; • A list of useful links, telephone numbers and handy documents; •            FAQs on the program, this site and the code, itself; and •        A place to submit your own questions.

Since the site’s launch in 2013, the primary focus of its offerings has been on Title 24, Part 6. In 2015, the program began developing training and resources to help improve compliance with California’s appliance standards. A Title 20 section was recently launched and includes online training modules on CEC certifiation and a set of useful resources. Be on the look-out for more offerings soon!

Coming Soon:

More free 2016 Title 24 training, tools and resources are in the works! Register with www.EnergyCodeAce.com to receive notices when new offerings are available.

Authors Gina Rodda has been in the energy modeling field since providing residential and nonresidential energy calculations for a variety of building types throughout California; an instructor of full day trainings; and hosting various webinars specific to Title 24 (Part 6) Building Energy Efficiency Standards. Principal, Gabel Associates, LLC; gina@gabelenergy.com)

Sally Blair has been in the sustainable building industry since 2003, and has done extensive work with Energy Code Ace, creating tools, trainings and resources to simplify compliance with Title 24, Part 6. Her building system knowledge paired with a passion for user-centered solutions is helping California’s building industry work towards zero net energy.

Program Director, NORESCO; sblair@noresco.com Both Gina and Sally are subject matter experts for Energy Code Ace. www.EnergyCodeAce.com