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Title 24, Part 6, The Energy Codes

Title 24, Part 6

What is it?  Title 24, Part 6 is the section of the California Building Code that regulates energy efficiency.  This section outlines all the rules and procedures for new and retrofit construction regarding mandatory and optional energy saving equipment.  Every three years, or so, the California Energy Commission http://www.energy.ca.gov/ revises the codes to keep up with new energy standards, and to help reach California’s goal of Net Zero by 2020.  The latest code cycle is known as the 2016 code cycle which took effect January 1, 2017.

What does this mean to me as the contractor/builder/designer/installer?

Title 24 sets the guidelines for each construction project. Any project requiring a building permit issued after January 1, 2017 will have to follow the new guidelines.  There are three distinct phases to each project: pre permit, post construction, and independent verification.  Each of these phases requires different paperwork to be submitted to the building department and also to be registered with an approved HERS provider.

Pre-permit: CF1R

In order to obtain a building permit, someone at the very beginning of the project, usually the designer, will have to get an energy calculation done.  The plans must submitted to an energy consultant, who will use sophisticated modeling software to determine the energy efficiency of the home.  The document that is produced at this point is the CF1R, Certificate of Compliance, and this document will lay out exactly what mandatory and optional measures must be built into the home.

There are two main ways to build a house (in Title 24 land): Prescriptive or Performance Approach.  Prescriptive means that the project exactly follows the recipe that Title 24 lays out.  The Performance approach allows some flexibility, builders can trade less energy efficient equipment by bulking up the energy efficiency of another measure.

The CF1R must also be registered with a HERS (Home Energy Rating Systems) provider.  As of the time of this post, CalCERTS is the only new construction provider available for the 2013 standards.  USERA is available for retrofit projects, and CHEERS is working on their certification.  Once the set of documents is registered on one of these providers, the building permit can be issued.  The documents must also appear on the plans themselves, so be sure to have the document registered before you take the plans down for plan check.

Need CF1R compliance documentation for a project?  Contact us for availability, pricing, or referral.

Installation: CF2R

Once the building permit is issued, the project begins.  So long as the project proceeds on the exact path that was planned for when the CF1R was issued, life is good.  But how often does that happen?  Not to worry, the CF1R can be revised if changes need to be made and so long as compliance is met in the end, the project can proceed.  And keep in mind- the equipment installed can be MORE energy efficient than planned for, just not LESS.

After the project is complete, the installing contractor needs to complete the CF2R, Certificate of Installation. The installing contractor will certify with this document the actual equipment that was installed.  Some diagnostic testing must occur on certain equipment, such as indoor air quality fans or heating and cooling systems.  Not every contractor has the equipment to perform this specialized testing.  There are many HERS raters who can be hired to perform this testing on behalf of the contractor.  Many of them are willing to do this installation testing when they come out to perform the verification testing.

Verification: CF3R

Once the installer has completed the CF2Rs, they must arrange for third party independent verification and testing of certain equipment.  This is done to protect the contractor and the homeowner, and relieve some of the burden on the building inspector.  This testing is done by a certified HERS rater.  HERS raters receive detailed classroom and hands on training, have to complete multiple tests in order to receive certification and are subject to quality assurance/field exams by the HERS provider.  The same HERS providers that accept CF1Rs for registration are in charge of the training, testing and ongoing quality assurance of HERS raters.  As of this writing CalCERTS http://www.calcerts.com is certified for new and retrofit construction, USERA http://www.usenergyraters.com for retrofit only and CHEERS http://www.cheers.org is in process of certification for the 2013 code cycle.

HERS raters perform a variety of verifications.  Just a small list: duct leakage, indoor air quality, quality installed insulation, water heating efficiency and many more.  Each of these verifications requires one or more site visits and highly specialized equipment to verify that the proper equipment has been installed and is working according to the strict standards required by the Energy Code.  HERS raters can also perform whole house energy audits, and verify existing conditions for situations when an existing home is being extensively remodeled.

Once the HERS rater has completed their testing, they enter the results into the same registry that the CF1R and CF2R have been entered into.  If the job as passed the process is complete.  If the job failed, the contractor can then make the needed changes so the project does pass.  These results are then put onto the final document of the project, the CF3R, Certificate of Verification.  The HERS rater signs the document and forwards it on to the building inspector, installing contractor, and home owner where appropriate.

Some HERS raters will also perform the CF2R level of testing, and document authoring, for the installing contractor at the same time as they are completing the CF3R testing.  The installing contractor must go into the registry to sign the installation certificate and take responsibility for the information provided.  This can save the installing contractor time and money as the HERS testing equipment can be very expensive and requires in-depth training.

Need HERS verification?  Contact our office for availability and pricing.  We have Raters available for almost every type of project.

Title 24 has some very specific requirements.  When in doubt, find the answers before you begin or bid the project.  Testing expenses should be added to the bid at the beginning of the project so there are no surprises at the end.