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CA Reworks Energy-Efficiency Law

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

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More building retrofits and energy-efficient upgrades are expected under a new law just passed in California.

California will become the first state in the U.S. with an annual energy benchmarking program designed to cover both multi-family residential and commercial buildings.

Under a new law, the state’s State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (Energy Commission) must establish a benchmarking and disclosure program that will allow building owners to compare their total energy usage to that of similar structures.

Gov. Edmund G. Brown signed AB 802 into law on Oct. 8.

buildings
©iStock.com / Liufuyu

More building retrofits and energy-efficient upgrades are expected under a new law just passed in California.

“AB 802 increases transparency, implements benchmarking, and changes how energy savings incentives can be used to help us drastically increase energy efficiency in existing buildings,” according to Assemblymember  Das Williams (D-Carpinteria), who drafted the legislation.

The Energy Commission anticipates that regulations for the new AB 802 program will be in effect by Jan. 1, 2017.

Rewriting Existing Law

While the state has had a commercial benchmarking program (AB 1103) since 2007, implementation has been problematic, according to reports.

For instance, building owners with separately metered tenants did not have the ability to easily receive whole-building energy usage information from utility companies, according to a summary by the National Resources Defense Council. Many utilities would require a building owner to obtain individual tenant authorization from every tenant in the building, a time-consuming and difficult task.

Without access to the whole-building data, building owners lacked metrics necessary to effectively manage their buildings, benchmark their properties and consider energy-efficiency improvements.

AB 802 removes some legal and regulatory burdens on utilities and building owners, permits aggregate data release and will allow whole-building energy use data to be shared publicly on an annual basis.

The public scores are expected to encourage building owners to make their buildings more energy efficient.

AB 802 will also improve building efficiency by authorizing investor owned utilities (IOUs) to use direct financial incentives to bring buildings up to and beyond code, Assemblymember Williams noted.

Another key difference in the new legislation is that it will expand benchmarking requirements to cover large multi-family housing (16-units and above).

AB 1103 will remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2015, and will be repealed effective Jan. 1, 2016, according to the National Law Review. There will be no statewide energy use disclosure requirement in 2016, the report noted.

   

Tagged categories: Building science; Commercial Buildings; Condominiums/High-Rise Residential; Energy codes; Energy Star; Performance testing; Renovation; Retrofits

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