What is Title 24?
Title 24 is a set of energy efficiency code requirements established in 2014 by the California Energy Commission “for new construction of, and additions and alterations to, residential and nonresidential buildings,” (source). The goal is promotion of maximum energy efficiency (Construction projects are among the highest producers of non-biodegradable waste). Why? The State of California is working to reduce its environmental footprint, and when implemented correctly, Title 24 requirements can also save the owner bundles in energy bills. Title 24 code requirements are updated on a 3-year cycle, and new relevant standards are scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020 for building permit applications submitted on or after that date.
If you have a current or upcoming construction or renovation project, Title 24 affects you. Your electrical, lighting, HVAC, and plumbing systems will need to meet the newest Title 24 codes in order to have the necessary permits approved for your project. Here are the costliest areas of your building project affected by Title 24 requirements to be aware of (you can find all the current forms and standards on the CA Energy Commission website):
- More overall electrical device and circuit installation
- Advanced daylight sensors and lighting controls
- Reduction in allowable watts per sqft
- Devices and outlets connected to programmed timers
- HVAC and air exchange controls
The inspiration behind Title 24 is for good, but the stringent requirements are costing owners on average $3-6 more per sqft upfront. The complicated programming for the required devices isn’t user-friendly, and often leaves owner unable to easily or affordably optimize their systems which can lead to suboptimal use or later substitution with inefficient alternatives. There is also a feeling of being ripped off as the opportunity emerges for manufacturers of expensive and now mandatory items to make more money with each building project.
Finally, every question raised during required city building department plan checks can result in additional rounds of review before permit issuance, each of which can take weeks, months, even years to conclude. Architects, Design Build General Contractors (D-B GCs), and Engineers working on your project may combat this by over-engineering inside of Title 24 requirements to avoid further rounds of review. It’s a pickle between Architect/D-B GCs, Engineers, and the City to perform the project in a timely manner and within budget.
How to Find Relief
If directed, the engineers of your project can do more to challenge the default, over-engineered response often utilized to expedite permitting. During your interview process with your potential Architects, D-B GCs, and/or Engineers, ask what each of these participants will do to engage ongoing value engineering throughout the permit process with a focus on negating Title 24-driven expenses.
If the consumer doesn’t maintain an understanding of the layers of over-engineering that can take place in order to keep up with Title 24 requirements, the D-B Team will likely default to expediting the permit process at the consumer’s expense. It’s important that value engineering opportunities are made a part of every meeting you have with your team so that you continue to advocate for your needs for timely permit processing without over-engineering. If designed right, required Title 24 upgrades can be limited to a lesser portion of the building project, and doesn’t have to affect a major portion of your budget. So remember, when you’re saying “Hurry up and get me that permit” to your D-B Team, add “and take your time to value engineer.”
The APSGC Team strives to legitimately utilize existing lighting and mechanical infrastructure and allow time to better prepare to challenge blanketed Title 24 upgrades in every project we do for our clients. Every decision in the construction and permitting process runs through a filter of value engineering. Call us for help with your project today!