Ready for the New 2016 Title 24 Energy Codes Updates?

Since its creation in 1977, the California Energy Efficiency Program has proven to be a major driver in reducing California’s energy consumption and has saved consumers a combined cost of $90 billion dollars. To put this into perspective, the total energy savings have allowed for continued building growth in California without building forty-one (41) additional new power plants. Even more impressive, California’s per capita electrical use has continued to remain flat for over 40 years while the rest of the country has continued to rise in use. The California Energy Commission (CEC) is leading the way with continuous improvements of the Title 24 Part 6 Energy Code, providing ongoing updates to re-align standards with recent advancements in technology and energy saving strategies.

The new 2016 energy code went into effect in January 1, 2017 and is already being enforced. These standards are an aggressive 5% more efficient than the 2013 requirements as the CEC is reaching toward the ambitious goal of “net-zero” energy use for commercial buildings by the year 2030.

Some highlights of the 2016 Part 6 Mechanical and Lighting Non-Residential changes: 
Door and Window Sensors:
When doors and windows are left open (for whatever reason), this has a major effect on costly heating and cooling systems operation with less effect on the actual temperature inside the building. Newly required sensors shall adjust thermostat heating and cooling setpoints when doors and windows are left open for more than a few minutes, and turn climate control equipment off until the room is sealed back up (Section 140.4(n)).

Digital Controls and Monitoring: Achieving energy efficiency on a large scale requires building managers to have the proper tools to have control over their heating, cooling and ventilation systems. New digital control requirements give users a more precise level control by linking HVAC operation directly to building energy management systems. Additionally, complex control strategies such as start/stop optimization and demand control ventilation are now required for specific air handling equipment (Sections 120.2(j) and 120.2 (k)).

Elevators: There’s far more to elevator systems than cars and pulleys. The new code now requires elevator systems to be more efficient with high-performing lighting and exhaust fans that turn off when the elevator car is empty (Section 120.6(f)).

Escalators: Whether they’re in use or not, escalators run at the same speed and have high energy consumption. New regulations stipulate that escalators and moving walkways shall run at more efficient levels when unoccupied (Section 120.6(g)).

Outdoor Lighting: 2016’s Title 24 updates reduce the general power allowance for outdoor lighting on commercial properties, and in some cases require additional motion sensors. Builders can meet these demands by using more efficient lighting sources.

Building Commissioning: Commissioning is now required for all new buildings with nonresidential conditioned space, including nonresidential spaces in hotel/motel and high-rise residential buildings. Additionally, the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) document must now include building envelope performance expectations under the 2016 Energy Standards (Section 120.8).

Mechanical Acceptance Testing and Lighting Acceptance Testing: Both Mechanical and Lighting Acceptance testing requirements have become more stringent and are required to verify a multitude of installation and controls requirements.

Please feel free to contact us for more information regarding 2016 CA Title 24 Part 6 Commissioning and Mechanical/Lighting Acceptance testing requirements.

Cal Green Commissioning & Owner's Project Requirements

What is so surprising about commissioning is that despite the critical nature of the Owner's Project Requirements (OPR) document, only a small percentage of projects actually creates and employs an OPR. We as the commissioning authority find, that owners typically reveal their expectations and desires to the architect but not the rest of the design team. Unfortunately, they assume these desires get translated or transmitted to the rest of the team and ultimately into the construction documents, but they don’t. 

The importance and value of the Owners Project Requirements (OPR) document cannot be over-emphasized. It represents the true purpose of commissioning. At the end of the project, the system design, construction, and operational schemes succeed or fail depending on how well the design and construction team members understanding the owner’s needs.

There is no magic to creating a quality OPR document. Cal Green standards provide a requirements outline in section Std.BSC-5.4.  A comprehensive OPR includes goals relative to: Environmental and Sustainability, Energy Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, Equipment and System Expectations. It also provides a guide for the designers to specify detailed operational parameters, maintenance expectations, staff training requirements and systems documentation. All this is important for sustaining an efficient building that meets the OPR.

 So, Mr. Owner, be sure to included OPR support in your next commissioning request for proposal.

Click here for a template of an Owners Project Requirement (OPR) document for your use. 

The Value of BAS Energy Dashboards


Major building automation companies have jumped on the green band wagon and developed and released Energy “Dashboard” software programs as an add-on feature to their standard “Graphical User Interface” (GUI) software. Most energy dashboards monitor the buildings control points along with the KW meter. Data is collected several times a minute and stored in a cloud or local server. Powerful analytic s are used to provide valuable insight into how to reduce wasted energy by optimizing operations.  The most popular use is to reduce demand in response to a utility outage. The key features of the dashboard enable facility energy managers to view live, real-time energy use data at a glance on a simple graphical display rather than waiting until the end of the month when the energy bill arrives. Reviewing the utility bill at the end of the month is usually too late to make an operation change. Before dashboards we relied on trend logs as a similar real time data gathering tool while commissioning projects back in the 80's.  As use becomes more common,  data shows the dashboard is providing a badly needed tool for rapid decision making to optimize a facilities energy and operational performance. A recent study by the Lawrence Berkeley Labs showed that facilities using energy information systems had a better track record for energy efficiency that those without. 

California Schools Save $700 Million per Year

California schools spend about $700 million dollars per year on inefficient energy use according to the latest US Department of Energy figures.

The schools with high energy bills were stuck, because valuable operational funds were being spent on wasted energy and the State was unable to provide funding to stop the inefficiency and unnecessary waste of energy.


The recently enacted California Clean Energy Jobs Act will help solve that dilemma. Prop 39 as it’s called will make $2.75 Billion dollars available to schools, colleges and universities over the next 5 years. It comes from Federal funds earmarked to help develop 40,000 new energy related jobs and businesses in California.

If you’re interested in swapping your old fluorescent lamps for new efficient LED lighting, apply for the funding it’s easy to do and the money is yours to use, just contact us and we can help you through the application process.

ASHRAE LEVEL I, II and III Energy Audit

The objective of an energy audit is to qualify and quantify how a building’s energy using systems are performing, what is required to improve building efficiency, and what will be the benefits of the improvements.

ASHRAE Enegy Audit 2.jpg

These audits can vary in scope depending on characteristics of a building. It is not entirely possible to know, where the audit process will lead, or what level of effort will be most cost effective until well into the study.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has defined three levels, of audits.  They are usually performed in sequence and the primary determining factor on what level audits are performed is based on the potential and desire for energy savings, building performance, available funding and the relative return on investment.

Following is a summary of the 3 audit levels:

ASHRAE Level 1

  • Assessment summary of annual building energy usage.
  • Building energy benchmark comparison.
  • Walk through survey of energy consuming systems.
  • Identify low cost and no cost measures for quick savings.
  • Identify potential energy efficiency opportunities.
  • Outline applicable incentive programs available.

 ASHRAE Level 2

  • Breakdown of energy source and end use.
  • Perform a detailed survey or retro-commissioning.
  • Identification of Energy Efficiency Measure (EEM).
  • Estimate cost and energy savings of EEM’s.
  • Prioritize EEM’s for limited resources.
  • Identify next steps for EEM’s.

ASHRAE Level 3

  • Longer term data collection and analysis.
  • Whole-building computer simulation, field data calibrated..
  • Accurate modeling of EEMs and power/energy response.
  • Detailed design of construction documents for EEM’s.
  • Bidding level of construction cost estimating.
  • Investment-grade, decision-making support.


Tune Up Your Building’s Systems; Recommissioning

Today’s automobiles have become an integral part of our lives. We depend on them to perform. We expect them to be comfortable, and because of the high cost of fuel, operate efficiently.  Most of us don’t think twice about “tuning-up” our cars after several years of use. We do it knowing that it will improve the performance.

The procedure is simple. We call our trusted service mechanic to check-out our car using the latest in high tech testing equipment. Many see the “tune-up” as a regular maintenance function, and usually associate it with the replacement or adjustment of components in the mechanical, electrical and fluid systems. It isn't a cure all, but when done regularly and by an expert, it can revitalize our vehicle, making it more comfortable, run efficiently and prevent a host of expensive problems down the road.

Today’s modern building isn't any different. Maintaining performance means a regular “tune-up”. Without exception after it's  first year or so, the systems begin to slide down the performance curve and efficiency diminish. As equipment ages it naturally deteriorates, controls get overridden by maintenance staff trying to solve a symptom, or change operational and occupancy parameters from which initial programming was based. 

A building tune-up or Re-Commissioning, as its known, is predominantly a hands on process that tests the functionality of an existing building and compares it's current operating efficiency with another benchmark building of the same type and use.   

Usually with  the help of the buildings automation system the commissioners will test the HVAC, lighting and water systems to find out if equipment needs to be adjusted, replaced or re-calibrated to an optimal performance level. This provide comfort for the occupants and reduces cost of operation. A side benefit to any adjustments is that it often uncovers and corrects many energy wasting issues and in some cases identifies a potentially costly failure.

Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory concluded in extensive studies that “recommissioning is a cost effective means to “tuning up” to provide energy efficiency in a facility.  It has proven to be an inexpensive first step to improving performance and cutting energy costs. In most cases it will provide the owner a return on investment in less than a year.

Some of the most common measures found in re-commissioned facilities include:.

1.      Adjust control sequences of operation.

2.      Reduce HVAC equipment operating hours.

3.      Readjust zone temperature dead-bands and set-points.

4.      Re-balance HVAC air and water systems.

5.      Adjust and repair economizer dampers and controls.

6.      Re-condition or balance chilled water and hot water systems.

7.      Adjust and repair or replace lighting and occupancy sensors, controls or schedules.

8.      Replace older fluorescent with energy efficient lighting.

9.      Reduce supply duct static and water pressures.

10.  Implement demand response strategies.

Once issues are uncovered and the repairs are implemented. The follow up is training of the maintenance staff, and tracking of performance using the trend data. It is recommended that a pre and post energy benchmark is established using this stored data to monitor and verify continued performance.