5 Must Know Updates to Title 24

Title 24 of California’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards is one of the most stringent building codes in the United States. As a state, California is working toward stringent energy savings in their buildings and striving to achieve some aggressive net-zero building goals. By 2020, California is aiming for all new residential builds to be net-zero, and by 2030, they hope to have the same standard for all non-residential buildings as well.

In order to achieve these ambitious goals, California continues to update and evolve its Title 24 building code. Every three years, the California Energy Commission releases updates to Title 24 that typically include stricter energy requirements for the state’s new builds.

Interestingly, while Title 24 only applies to buildings in California, many of the policies and practices it establishes are later adopted by other states as they also strive to make inroads into creating more sustainable codes and practices.

In 2019, we saw the latest version of Title 24, and with it came some substantive changes to how we construct the building envelope. We’ve outlined these must-know changes below and you can learn even more about them in our recent webinar, Title 24: Building Envelope Changes

1. New Energy Design Rating (EDR)
The EDR is a measure of a building’s energy efficiency as it relates to energy consumed vs energy produced. It is basically an estimation of the energy used by the house you plan to build compared to the energy used by a reference house. An EDR of zero is a net-zero home. This is basically how California’s governing bodies are able to identify how they are performing against their net-zero goals.

As of 2019, the efficiency EDR (without renewable energy) of the new building must be less than or equal to the EDR of the reference (prescriptive building), and the total proposed EDR (with renewables) score must be less than or equal to the total standard design EDR score. 

2. Photovoltaic (PV) Solar/Efficiency Trade-off has Been Removed
In prior versions of Title 24, PV solar or other renewables could be used as a trade-off against high performance attics and high performance walls. Now, high performance attics and walls must be used in addition to PV solar.

3. Single-Family and Multi-Family Regulations are Now Separated
In 2019, Title 24 separated single-family and multi-family regulations into two separate regulations, each with their own unique requirements. Currently, the requirements are similar; however, eventually, multi-family will be its own category separate from residential and nonresidential.

4. Spray Foam Insulation Can No Longer Contain Hydrofluorocarbons
As of January 1, 2020, any spray foam insulation sold into the state of California must be manufactured without any hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a common chemical used as part of the blowing agent. The purpose of this requirement is to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California. Spray foam that contains HFCs may still be used and sold – so long as its manufacture date is prior to January 1, 2020, and the distributor did not purchase it from the manufacturer after January 1, 2020.

5. Quality Insulation Installation (QII) is Now a Prescriptive Requirement
In order to reduce the likelihood that insulation will be installed incorrectly, thereby reducing its efficacy, 2019 Title 24 calls for QII as a prescriptive requirement. To minimize rework, it is recommended that builders include QII in the contractor scope since a HERS Rater will be inspecting the work.

If you would like to learn more about Title 24, visit our resource page. There you’ll find many helpful Title 24 resources, including our Title 24 webinar and our multi-family and single family Title 24 Insulation guides.