The New California Building Energy Efficiency Standards: What’s Changed?

The 2013 California Building Energy Efficiency Standards went into effect on July 1, 2014. The 2013 standards improve on the 2008 Standards for new construction of, and additions and alterations to, residential and nonresidential buildings. Below are summarized the major HVAC changes from the 2008 standard to the 2013 standard. As energy-efficient codes and standards increase, there is an increased need for mechanical fresh ventilation. For help with your Heat or Energy Recovery Ventilation strategy, please contact us at info@zehnderamerica.com.

2013 Residential HVAC Building Energy Efficiency Standards Measures Summary

Prescriptive Measures:

1. Duct Insulation – Raise minimum from R‐4.2 to R‐6.0 in climate zones 6, 7, and 8. (Section 150.1(c)9)
2. Night Ventilation – Whole house fan as a minimum; allows Smart Vents and Night Breeze as alternatives in CZs 8‐14. (Section 150.1(c)12)
Mandatory Requirements:
1. Duct sealing in all CZs. (Section 150.0(m)11)
2. Return duct design or fan power and airflow testing (Residential HVAC Quality Installation Improvements). (Section150.0(m)13)
3. Hot water pipe insulation ‐Requires insulation on pipes ¾ inch and larger. (Section150.0(j)2Aii and Section 150.0(j)4)

Additions and Alteration:

1. Simplified Compliance documentation requirements for small additions and alteration projects that do not involve a HERS measure. (Section 150.2(a) and (b))
2. Simplified rules for both the prescriptive and performance paths for additions, alterations, and existing plus additions plus alterations. (Section 150.2(a) and (b))

2013 Nonresidential HVAC Building Energy Efficiency Standards Measures Summary


1. Added requirements for Fan Control and Integrated Economizers. Packaged units down to 6 tons must be VAV with the ability to modulate cooling capacity to 20% of maximum. Economizers must also be able to modulate cooling capacity to match VAV units. (Section 140.4(c) & (e))
2. Reduced ability for HVAC systems to reheat conditioned air. (Section 140.4(d))
3. Increased chiller efficiency requirements, consistent with ASHRAE 90.1‐2010. (Section 140.4(i))
4. Increased cooling tower energy efficiency and WATER Savings. (Section 140.4(k)2)
5. Added requirements for commercial boiler combustion controls. (Section 140.4(k)3)
6. Added acceptance tests for HVAC sensors and controls, including those for demand controlled ventilation. (Section 120.5(a))
7. Added efficiency requirements for small motors. (Section 140.4(c)4)
8. Added credit for evaporative systems that meet the Western Cooling Efficiency Challenge (WCEC program to acknowledge high energy and water efficiency in evaporative systems). (Section 140.4)
9. Moving Fault Detection and Diagnostics (FDD) protocols for air temperature, economizers, damper modulation, and excess outdoor air to mandatory measures from the current compliance option. (Section 120.2(i))

Process Loads

1. Added mandatory requirements for commercial supermarket refrigeration. (Section 120.6(b))
2. Increased mandatory requirements for refrigerated warehouses. (Section 120.6(a))
3. Added ventilation control requirements for commercial kitchens. (Section 140.9(b))
4. Added prescriptive requirements for laboratory exhaust VAV and heat recovery. (Section 140.9(c))
5. Added mandatory ventilation control requirements for parking garages. (Section 120.6(c))
6. Added mandatory requirements for VFDs and system controls on compressed air systems.
(Section 120.6(e))
7. Added mandatory requirements for computer data centers. (Section 140.9(a))
8. Added mandatory requirements for process boilers. (Section 120.6(d))


1. Moved Part 11 commissioning requirements to Part 6 for energy‐related building components.
(Section 120.8)
2. Added mandatory requirements for design‐phase commissioning, which includes an early review of design intent documents and highlighting efficiency specifications in both construction documents and Standards compliance forms. (Section 120.8(d))
3. Added performance standard compliance requirement to produce whole building performance rating twice: once during design permit stage (“design rating”) then after construction acceptance testing (“as‐built rating”). (Section 120.8(g))

Compliance Option

• Hybrid Evaporative Cooling Systems in Nonresidential Buildings.

Residential and Nonresidential

• Compliance Documents Central Repository – Create a central repository to store compliance documentation that can be used by the CEC and others to improve compliance with the standards and perform program evaluation. (10‐103)