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Incentives/Policies for Renewables & Efficiency

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Building Energy Code   

Last DSIRE Review: 05/16/2013
Program Overview:
State: California
Incentive Type: Building Energy Code
Eligible Efficiency Technologies: Comprehensive Measures/Whole Building
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Passive Solar Space Heat, Solar Water Heat, Photovoltaics
Applicable Sectors: Commercial, Residential, Schools, Hospitals
Residential Code:State developed code, Title 24, Part 6, exceeds 2009 IECC, and is mandatory statewide. Buildings must also meet requirements set by CALGreen, the statewide green building code.
Commercial Code:State developed code, Title 24, Part 6, meets or exceeds 2009 IECC and ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2007, and is mandatory statewide. Buildings must also meet requirements set by CALGreen, the statewide green building code.
Code Change Cycle:Three-year code change cycle. The 2008 Standards took effect January 1, 2010. The 2012 Standards are scheduled to take effect in 2014.
Web Site:

Note: The California Energy Commission adopted the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards for new residential and commercial construction on May 31, 2012. The new standards are expected to take effect on January 1, 2014, and represent significant energy and water savings compared to the current standards. Among many notable provisions, the new standards will require new homes and businesses to be built "solar ready", allowing for an easier installation of photovaltaic panels at a later time. The summary below represents the building code that is currently in place and will remain in place until 2014. Click here for more information about the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. 

Much of the information presented in this summary is drawn from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building Energy Codes Program and the Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP). For more detailed information about building energy codes, visit the DOE and BCAP websites.

The California Building Standards Commission (BSC) is responsible for administering California's building standards adoption, publication, and implementation. Since 1989, the BSC has published triennial editions of the code, commonly referred to as Title 24, in its entirety every three years. On July 17, 2008 the BSC unanimously approved the nation's first statewide voluntary green building code. In January 2010, the BSC adopted a final version of the new building code, CALGreen, parts of which became mandatory on January 1, 2011. CALGreen exists alongside the latest edition of Title 24, which took effect on January 1, 2010. CALGreen includes provisions to ensure the reduction of water use by 20%, improve indoor air quality, divert 50% of new construction waste from landfills, and inspect energy systems (i.e. heat furnace, air conditioner, mechanical equipment) for nonresidential buildings over 10,000 square feet to make sure that they're working acording to design.

Title 24 applies to all buildings that are heated and/or mechanically cooled and are defined under the Uniform Building Code as A, B, E, H, N, R, or S occupancies, except registered historical buildings. Additions and renovations are also covered by the code. Institutional building's which include hospitals and prisons are not covered.

For residential low-rise buildings the current code provisions include compliance credits for high performance ducts and building envelope features. The size of credit depends on the action taken. For example simply designing ducts to Air Conditioner Contractor's Association guidelines or properly sealing duct joints provided lower levels of credit than having the HVAC system tested for duct leaks. To take credit for these measures the installer and inspector must be trained and certified.

Local governmental agencies can modify the state energy code to be more stringent when documentation is provided to the California Energy Commission.

AB 1103, passed in October 2007, requires annual energy-use reporting for all of California's nonresidential buildings effective January 2009. AB 531 of 2009 superseded AB 1103, and clarified that the CEC has the authority to set a schedule of compliance. The CEC decided through a rulemaking process to implement the law in stages based on building size. Starting on July 1, 2013, buildings of more than 50,000 square feet will need comply with the law. Smaller buildings will need to comply with the law by either January 1, 2014 or July 1, 2014, depending on size. Click here for more information about the California Energy Commission's efforts to implement AB 1103.

  Maziar Shirakh
California Energy Commission
Buildings and Appliances Office
1516 Ninth St
Sacramento, CA 95814-5512
Phone: (916) 654-3839
Fax: (916) 654-4304
Web Site:
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Disclaimer: The information presented on the DSIRE web site provides an unofficial overview of financial incentives and other policies. It does not constitute professional tax advice or other professional financial guidance, and it should not be used as the only source of information when making purchasing decisions, investment decisions or tax decisions, or when executing other binding agreements. Please refer to the individual contact provided below each summary to verify that a specific financial incentive or other policy applies to your project.

While the DSIRE staff strives to provide the best information possible, the DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. make no representations or warranties, either express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the information. The DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. disclaim all liability of any kind arising out of your use or misuse of the information contained or referenced on DSIRE Web pages.

Copyright 2014 - 2015 North Carolina State University, under NREL Subcontract No. XEU-0-99515-01. Permission granted only for personal or educational use, or for use by or on behalf of the U.S. government. North Carolina State University prohibits the unauthorized display, reproduction, sale, and/or distribution of all or portions of the content of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) without prior, written consent.