Changes in the 2016 California Energy Code,
beginning January 1, 2017


The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) have launched a Zero Net Energy Action Plan to build a self-sustaining market for all new commercial buildings to be net-zero energy by 2030. This is changing the way buildings are constructed in California.

After 30 years of construction, the CEC estimates that these savings will add up to the equivalent energy use of twelve large power plants.

The “path to ZNE” approach is a set of steps developed by PIET to address zero net energy projects for buildings and communities. This methodology was developed for projects aiming at significantly

The “path to ZNE” approach is a set of steps developed by PIET to address zero net energy projects for buildings and communities. This methodology was developed for projects aiming at significantly

Zero Net Energy is defined as: "The societal value of energy consumed by the building over the course of a typical year is less than or equal to the societal value of the on-site renewable energy generated."
Revised Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Definition
"In other words, a zero-net-energy building produces as much energy as it consumes, usually through a mix of high efficiency and clean onsite generation. The definition requires that a home create as much energy as it uses over the course of an entire year, rather than on a real-time basis."
— Paraphrased from:
California Wants All New Homes to Be Net Zero in 2020

Major commercial energy-savings improvements include:

  • High-performance walls: The standards would require increased wall insulation in most climate zones. These levels can be met with a variety of construction assemblies, including both 2x4 and 2x6 construction.
  • High-performance attics: The standards give builders the options to either increase attic sealing and insulation or move ducts into conditioned space (either by installing a ductless system or placing ductwork in parts of the home that are already heated and cooled).
  • High-performance lighting: The new standards will cut lighting energy in homes by almost half by requiring a high-efficacy bulb (such as a CFL or LED) in every socket. The standards also sets quality performance requirements to ensure that these bulbs meet consumer expectations. The standards provide builders flexibility by allowing screw-based bulbs for most socket-types.
  • Water heating: The new standards require the use of an instantaneous tankless gas water heater, which saves energy by heating water on demand rather than storing it in a tank, or one with equivalent energy performance.

MSA is available to discuss the process of meeting the California Energy Code for any building project. Please Do
not hesitate to contact us on current or future projects.