The Local Energy Codes web site is developed and provided by the California investor-owned utilities (“IOUs”) as part of the California Statewide Codes & Standards Program, which offers energy code tools, technical support, training, and resources for local jurisdictions that wish to adopt a local energy ordinance. Designed to facilitate the local energy ordinance adoption process and to leverage technical resources across the state, the program aims to advance the adoption and effective implementation of energy efficiency policies, measures and building practices to lock in long-term energy savings. The program recognizes that codes and standards are one of the most effective pathways to ensuring sustained market transformation – and local energy ordinances that require performance beyond the state’s minimum requirements can assist jurisdictions in achieving climate action and greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals. With that in mind, a number of offerings have been developed to help local government staff through the local energy ordinance adoption process.
The California Statewide Codes & Standards Program is funded by California utility customers under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission and implemented by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, and Southern California Edison Company.
Background: Codes and Standards
California has been at the forefront of many building code and appliance standards advancements across the nation, forging a path for federally adopted codes to follow, such as the Standards and Guidelines of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (“ASHRAE”) and International Energy Conservation Code of the International Code Council (“ICC”). By working through many code advancements in California first, it becomes easier for other code-making bodies to adopt similar features. In recent cycles, the ASHRAE and IECC codes have increased in stringency, with the latest iteration being very similar to the California codes. Because of the advancements in California, the federal government and many states now recognize that codes and standards are a cost-effective way to transform a market, and can provide an end-point for measures that have been publicly supported through utility or other programs.
The California Statewide Codes and Standards (C&S) Program (“C&S Program”) has been established to save energy on behalf of ratepayers by influencing continuous improvements in energy efficiency regulations, improving compliance with existing codes and standards, working with local governments to develop ordinances that exceed statewide minimum requirements, and with other programs in the portfolio to coordinate activities. Both the C&S Program advocacy and compliance improvement activities extend to virtually all buildings and potentially any appliance in California (and beyond).
The C&S Program conducts advocacy activities to improve building and appliance efficiency regulations. The principal audience is the California Energy Commission (“CEC”) which conducts periodic rulemakings, usually on a three-year cycle (for building regulations), to update building and appliance energy efficiency regulations. The C&S Program also seeks to influence the United States Department of Energy (“DOE”) in setting national energy policy that impacts California.
Following the adoption of codes and standards, the C&S Program supports improved compliance with the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24, Part 6) and Appliance Efficiency Regulations (Title 20). As part of the C&S Program, the Reach Codes Subprogram leverages the unique authority of local jurisdictions to adopt ordinances that require increased efficiency beyond the state’s minimum requirements. In addition to differentiating the jurisdiction as an efficiency leader, local energy ordinances accelerate the adoption of new equipment, technologies, code compliance, and energy-savings strategies to help pave the way for future code cycles. The Reach Codes Subprogram responds directly to California’s AB32 policy goal of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The new Planning and Coordination Subprogram expands the coordination role of the C&S Program in the market adoption cycle for energy efficiency technologies and practices. As many of the measures offered through voluntary programs are later adopted into the standards, the C&S Program will support, with both internal and external stakeholders, a coordinated approach to portfolio planning with the objective of accelerating market acceptance and ultimately the adoption of successful, cost-effective technologies or practices into code.