By Media Office Staff
California received the highest marks once again in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, an annual ranking that looks at energy efficiency and clean energy policy and program efforts across all sectors and state agencies. The 15th annual scorecard named California number one for the second year running.
The ACEEE recognized California based on its historic $54 billion climate package passed earlier this year, efforts to address energy equity in disadvantaged communities, the recently approved Advanced Clean Cars rule, and the triennial building energy code.
“It [California] continues to set an example for other states with its leadership in building energy codes and vehicle emissions and progress on energy efficiency in the utilities sector,” the ACEEE wrote in a state breakdown released alongside the scorecard. “The state has implemented policies to advance equitable utility energy efficiency programs.”
The Energy Code
Every three years, the California Energy Commission (CEC) develops and adopts updated building energy efficiency standards that cost-effectively increase efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of buildings to support California’s public health, climate, and clean energy goals. The CEC adopted the 2022 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Energy Code) in August 2021, and they go into effect for new construction, additions and alterations on Jan. 1, 2023.
Commissioner J. Andrew McAllister, CEC’s lead for energy efficiency, said at the time of adoption, “Buildings profoundly influence our health, environment and economy. Into the future, they will use less energy and emit less pollution, while still being comfortable and healthy. The 2022 Energy Code firmly pivots California’s buildings toward the clean, low-carbon technologies that are the bedrock on which our collective path forward will rest. This foundation will help the state meet its critical long-term climate and carbon neutrality goals."
The 2022 update establishes electric-ready requirements for single-family homes so owners can migrate to cleaner electric heating, cooking, and electric vehicle (EV) charging options when they choose. Strengthened ventilation standards in buildings will improve indoor air quality, address pollutants from wildfires, and phase out fossil-fuel-burning sources in cooking, industry and transportation. For these innovations, the 2022 Energy Code garnered attention, receiving several awards, including:
The Training Institute Course Development Merit Award: Amie Brousseau, CEC Energy Commission specialist, accepted the Training Institute Course Development Merit Award for the Energy Code at the California Building Officials’ (CALBO) 60th Annual Business Meeting in Rancho Mirage in May 2022.
The U.S. Green Building Council Los Angeles’ Policy Leadership Award: Will Vicent, manager of the CEC’s Building Standards Office, accepted the award from the U.S. Green Building Council at the 2022 My Green Building Conference and Expo in Los Angeles on May 20, 2022.
A 2022 State Leadership in Clean Energy Award: The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), a national nonprofit coalition of public agencies working together to advance clean energy, recognized the Energy Code in the 2022 State Leadership in Clean Energy Awards on June 7, 2022.
The CESA judges summed up the merits of the 2022 Energy Code this way: “Energy codes are a powerful lever for change, and California has helped raise the bar for what is possible.” The standards support electric heat pumps as the performance baseline for homes and select commercial buildings based on the higher energy efficiency of heat pumps and fewer emissions than gas space and water heaters. The code has also been recognized for the first-in-the-nation standard for solar-electric systems plus battery storage for select nonresidential buildings.
These updates are anticipated to have a major impact. In California, homes and businesses are responsible for nearly 70 percent of electricity use and a quarter of the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The 2022 Energy Code is estimated to provide $1.5 billion in benefits through increased energy efficiency and prevent the emission of 10 million metric tons of GHGs over the next 30 years, while inspiring and encouraging other policy makers to follow its lead.
2022 Energy Code Supporter Quotes
Panama Bartholomy, director, Building Decarbonization Coalition “The 2022 Energy Code is a huge step forward for the decarbonization of new buildings in the Golden State. We are excited to see this iteration of the code come to fruition, and we look forward to the market impacts it will surely have.”
Merrian Borgeson, California director, Climate and Clean Energy, Natural Resources Defense Council “The new code unleashes a cleaner, cheaper and faster way to build homes. The biggest climate win in the 2022 code update is the shift to electric heat pump space and water heating: powering space and water heating with electricity, which is already a lot cleaner than gas and increasingly carbon-free, offers a pathway to zero-emission buildings.”
Tim Kohut, architect, director of sustainable design, National Community Renaissance
“National Community Renaissance (CORE), a non-profit organization developing, building, and operating affordable housing throughout Southern California, is proud to demonstrate what is possible when it comes to meeting and exceeding the T24 energy standards. We pay close attention to the requirements for building envelope, energy system, and indoor air quality ensuring that even before renewable energy systems are added, our buildings are assembled to meet the goals and expectations established in the California Energy Code. The results are buildings that are easier and more affordably operated, and where resident utility costs are dramatically reduced. We are happy to support the efforts of the California Energy Commission as it continues to define the pathway towards a cleaner and zero-carbon energy future benefitting all Californians and showing the world what is possible in the process.”
Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
“Building electrification also has a lower first cost than gas construction and is cost‐effective for consumers. SMUD strongly supports the CEC adopting an all-electric baseline for the 2022 Energy Code for residential and commercial buildings.”
Genesis Tang, lead on the Codes and Standards Program, California Public Utilities Commission
“We want to thank the Commission for its continued leadership and commitment in adopting strong and robust building codes, and its focus on efforts to achieve zero-emission buildings in a way that will accelerate social equity, economic, environmental, and health benefits.”
Lauren Cullum, Sierra Club, California
“We support the CEC's adoption of the 2022 Energy Code, which includes strong provisions which will incentivize all-electric new construction. That will protect the health of the people who live and work in those buildings and puts California in a better position to meet its climate targets. This code is a huge step for California and the rest of the nation. It will be the first in the nation to include highly efficient heat-pump technology as a baseline for new homes.”
Dawn Anaiscourt, director, Regulatory Affairs – Agency Relations, Southern California Edison “SCE is fully supportive of the proposed standards as they mark an important step in supporting the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals and broadening customer choice, as demonstrated by the inclusion of prescriptive heat pump baselines, electric readiness requirements for residential buildings, and expanded solar and battery requirements of nonresidential buildings.”
California Solar & Storage Association (CalSSA)
“We applaud the Energy Commission’s leadership in requiring that commercial buildings include solar and storage, ensuring energy storage systems can be easily added to homes in the future, and encouraging buildings to include solar hot water systems and other electrification technologies.”
James Willson, executive director, National Electrical Contractors Association, Greater Los Angeles
“Not only is this code essential for California to achieve its aggressive climate goals, facilitating the adoption of sustainable energy technologies will create new careers in the rapidly expanding clean energy sector. By requiring new prescriptive solar photovoltaic and battery storage for many categories of newly constructed nonresidential building types, the proposed code will create a more resilient and reliable grid. As California continues to electrify, it is essential to have distributed solar and storage that can smooth our peak demands, reduce the burden on our transmission and distribution systems in this time of unpredictable wildfires, and ease some of the burden of blackouts.”