Energy efficiency in California’s buildings

California’s energy efficiency standards for new buildings – residential and non-residential – have saved consumers billions of dollars in reduced electricity and natural gas bills. Environmentally, energy efficiency standards, in place since 1978, have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 250 million tons: The equivalent of taking 37 million cars off California’s roads.

For residential homes in California lower electricity and gas bills have been achieved through:

  • Efficient lighting: All new homes must have efficient lighting with controls that almost halve the energy required for lights in new homes
  • High performance walls: Increased insulation keeps the sun’s heat out during summer (reducing energy usage for cooling) and warm air in during the cooler months (reducing energy usage for heating)
  • High performance attics: Attics that have extra insulation keep attic temperatures closer to ambient, improving a home’s heating and cooling performance
  • Improved water heating system efficiency: Installing tankless water heating technology can reduce energy usage for heating hot water by around 35%
Californian energy efficiency in buildings

Californian energy efficiency in buildings

In non-residential buildings lower energy demand, increased energy efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions have been achieved through the use of numerous technologies including:

  • Door and window interlocks: Sensors on doors and windows adjust the thermostat to turn off the heating or cooling if a door or window has been left open for more than 5 minutes
  • Direct digital controls: For larger buildings digital controls allow facility managers to tailor a building’s heating and cooling demands, preventing waste
  • Elevators: Efficient ventilation and lighting sources inside elevators along with controls that turn off elevator lighting and fans when the elevator is empty saves energy when the elevator is in use or empty
  • Outdoor lighting: More efficient outdoor lighting has lowered the amount of energy used in lighting
  • Escalators: Reducing the speed of escalators and moving walkways in transit areas when not in use lowers energy demand

The take-out

A range of technologies can be installed in new buildings – both residential and non-residential – to lower energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

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Author: Robert C. Brears

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