With the new California Energy Code comes new requirements, and one requirement in particular may introduce some challenges for designers, installers, and building owners when it comes to ventilation needs.

Providing adequate amounts of fresh air to a conditioned space is important, but to that end, meeting the intent of the Energy Code can be difficult. Fortunately there are multiple ways to meet the new ventilation standards in residential spaces.

Starting January 1st, 2020, all residential spaces (regardless of number of floors or units) must comply with ASHRAE 62.2-2016 for their ventilation standards. This includes providing increased amounts of ventilation based primarily on the assumed amount of occupants and the size of the space. Additionally, MERV 13 filters for all fresh air supply and recirculating mechanical ventilation systems. If this isn’t scary enough, there’s an additional requirement that is unique to California, and that’s the inclusion of a balanced ventilation system.

A balanced ventilation system is a mechanical system which provides an equal amount of supply and exhaust air to a given space. Adding an efficient exhaust and supply fan can be expensive, especially in multifamily buildings where the costs can add up very quickly. Luckily, there’s a cost-effective workaround that every developer may wish to consider: blower door testing.

The exception to the balanced ventilation system is the design of a continuous supply or exhaust fan (with the latter being most preferable) and the passing of a blower door test from a qualified HERS Rater. The one-time soft cost of a successful blower door test (assuming proper sealing throughout the unit) can easily eliminate the hard costs and labor associated with purchasing, installing, and maintaining the fresh air supply fan and filters needed to meet the baseline code requirement.

Although the Energy Code grows more stringent with every cycle, the CEC recognizes that advancing towards environmental responsibility is time-consuming, expensive, and even confusing at times. VCA Green makes it easy by navigating these lengthy and complicated code sections and breaking them down to their core to find the best possible solution for you and your team. For more information on how to beat the system (and the competition), contact Moe Fakih below.

Contributing Writer: Burke Boydell, CEA

Moe Fakih, Principal