This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 12, 2005

New Building Efficiency Standards Take Effect in California

New energy efficiency standards for both residential and nonresidential buildings took effect on October 1st in California. The changes require duct insulation in commercial buildings and prescribe a variety of energy efficiency measures, including cool roofs, well-sealed ducts, daylighting, and high efficiency heating and cooling. Most of the mandatory changes relate to indoor and outdoor lighting, encouraging technologies such as fluorescent lights, occupancy sensors, and dimmers. According to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), these changes will help homeowners save up to 75 percent on lighting costs. To help builders comply with the new standards, the California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) at the University of California at Davis has published a "Residential Design Lighting Guide." See the California Energy Commission (CEC) Web site for the CEC press release and the complete standards; the PG&E press release for an explanation of the standards; and the CLTC Web site for the builder's guide.

The new standards also require a check for leaky ducts in most California homes when a new central furnace or air conditioner is installed. Duct systems that leak 15 percent or more must be sealed to reduce the leaks. According to the CEC, independent research has shown that the average California home has ducts that leak away 30 percent of the conditioned air. See the CEC press release and Web page on the new requirements.