For Immediate Release: May 31, 2012
Media Contact: Adam Gottlieb - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Approves More Efficient
Buildings for California's Future

Better Windows, Whole House Fans, Solar-Ready Roofs Considered

SACRAMENTO - In a move to reduce energy costs, save consumers money, and increase comfort, the California Energy Commission today unanimously approved energy efficiency standards for new homes and commercial buildings.

"Improving the energy efficiency of buildings in which we will live and work will save Californians energy for decades," said Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas. "These Standards will help save consumers money on their utility bills, keep them comfortable in their homes, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through better, more efficient buildings."

The Energy Commission's 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards are 25 percent more efficient than previous standards for residential construction and 30 percent better for nonresidential construction. The Standards, which take effect on January 1, 2014, offer builders better windows, insulation, lighting, ventilation systems and other features that reduce energy consumption in homes and businesses.

Some improved measures in the Standards include:


  • Solar-ready roofs to allow homeowners to add solar photovoltaic panels at a future date
  • More efficient windows to allow increased sunlight, while decreasing heat gain
  • Insulated hot water pipes, to save water and energy and reduce the time it takes to deliver hot water
  • Whole house fans to cool homes and attics with evening air reducing the need for air conditioning load
  • Air conditioner installation verification to insure efficient operation


  • High performance windows, sensors and controls that allow buildings to use "daylighting"
  • Efficient process equipment in supermarkets, computer data centers, commercial kitchens, laboratories, and parking garages
  • Advanced lighting controls to synchronize light levels with daylight and building occupancy, and provide demand response capability
  • Solar-ready roofs to allow businesses to add solar photovoltaic panels at a future date
  • Cool roof technologies

On average, the Standards will increase the cost of constructing a new home by $2,290 but will return more than $6,200 in energy savings over 30 years. Based on a 30-year mortgage, the standards will add approximately $11 per month for the average home, but save consumers $27 on monthly heating, cooling, and lighting bills.

Within the first year of implementation, the Standards are projected to add up to 3,500 new building industry jobs as well as save million gallons of water per year. After 30 years of implementing the Standards, California will save nearly 14,000 megawatt hours or enough electricity to power 1.7 million homes and avoid the need to construct six new power plants.

Two energy policy goals are driving the design of the current standards: The Loading Order, which directs that growing demand must be met first with cost-effective energy efficiency and next with renewable generation; and "Zero Net Energy" (ZNE) goals for new homes by 2020 and commercial buildings by 2030. The ZNE goal means that new buildings must use a combination of improved efficiency and distributed renewable generation to meet 100 percent of their annual energy need.

By working closely with the building industry and other stakeholders, the Energy Commission developed standards that recognized the challenges facing builders and provided the industry flexibility and options for meeting the standards. Supporters include: California Building Industry Association; Natural Resources Defense Council; Pacific Gas & Electric; Southern California Edison; San Diego Gas & Electric; Southern California Gas, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE); Alliance to Save Energy; Building Code Assistance Project; and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project.

Since 1978, the California Energy Commission has saved Californians $66 billion in electricity and natural gas costs through energy efficient building and appliance standards.

What others are saying:

"With the residential construction industry still struggling to emerge from the worst economic downturn in 60 years, the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) supports the Energy Commission's 2013 building energy efficiency standards to balance the state's objectives of achieving greater levels of energy efficiency with the need for housing affordability," said Layne Marceau, Northern California Division President for Shea Homes and Chairman of the CBIA Governmental Affairs Committee.

"Because of the Energy Commission's latest standards, new homes and buildings in California will use approximately 25 percent less energy for decades to come due to energy efficient windows, insulation, and better designed hot water heating systems. These standards are wildly cost effective and will ensure every new building constructed in the state is an energy efficient one. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) supports the adoption of these standards as they represent the first step towards California reaching its statewide goal of achieving Zero Net Energy homes by 2020," said Noah Horowitz, Senior Scientist at the NRDC.

"PG&E is a strong supporter of codes and standards as a vital tool in helping California achieve its clean energy goals. The California Energy Commission's work on building standards is integral to California's long-standing leadership in energy efficiency. The building standards adopted today, which represent a balancing of many interests, are a cost-effective way to help customers save money on their energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Steve Malnight, Vice President of Customer Energy Solutions for Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

More information is available here:

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