A solar array with buildings in the background and a setting sun

VCA can offer guidance for how to meet key features of the CA Energy Code and LA’s all-electric ordinance, both of which will change the way design teams and developers approach projects. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

It seems like everyone’s talking about California’s changes to Title 24, Part 6 (Energy Code) for 2022, but you may be less familiar with the City of Los Angeles’ recently issued all-electric ordinance. We’re here to review key features of these updates that will change the way design teams and developers approach projects.

In line with California’s goals to achieve carbon neutrality, these updates will add first costs to projects, and the renewable energy requirements will also add return on investment (ROI). But we can also offer methods of mitigating some construction costs.

City Los Angeles All-Electric Ordinance
Starting April 1, 2023, all new construction projects submitted to the City of Los Angeles Building & Safety Department shall eliminate gas service.

Exceptions: Affordable housing, as defined by the Mayor’s Executive Directive 13, submitted before June 1, 2023; accessory dwellings using existing gas systems; gas-powered emergency life systems; kitchens (restaurants, cafeterias, etc.) located in public use areas, if electric infrastructure is provided; and gas-powered equipment in I-2, F and L occupancies.

We received a comment from the City of LA that standalone gas and propane systems may still be used because they are not connected to the building or piped to a utility service. LA’s ordinance is not too clear on this point, but the code does not seem to regulate gas-based mobile heaters, BBQs, and firepits, for example.

Multi-Family California 2022 Title 24, Part 6 (Energy Code)
As of January 1, 2023, any California project going into plan check for the first time must meet the following:

    • 40% of total parking will address electric vehicle use (CALGreen):
        • 25% EV Ready – J-box and conduit to future panel location
        • 10% EV Capable – J-box and conduit to existing panel
        • 30% for City of LA
        • 5% EV Level 2 Charging Stations fully installed.
        • 10% for City of LA
    • Solar photovoltaic systems are prescriptively required by the energy code for new construction. We’ll not be able to model out solar PV, so consider such systems as mandatory unless your project triggers rare exceptions.
    • Battery storage will be triggered if solar is installed for high-rise residential (four stories or more) and most nonresidential occupancies. You’ll need to program a location for battery storage and consider fire-safety issues. Given that utility providers have discontinued the second iteration of net energy metering (NEM-2.0) (i.e., no more buying your solar electric generation), battery storage will be integral to capturing ROI.
    • HVAC equipment Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratings (SEER) have been increased across the United States. In California, SEER ratings have increased from SEER 14 to SEER 15 for heat pumps.
    • If your project opts for balanced ventilation, the selected system will be compared to the performance of a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV), depending on climate zone. If an HRV is not selected, for example, there’s likely an energy penalty, but:
    • For now, you can utilize a continuously running bath fan with a blower door test as a fresh air strategy. We may no longer see this option next code cycle.
    • For new all-electric buildings, heat pump water heaters will be utilized – either individual tanks or central systems. Coordination with your plumbing engineer is critical as larger central heat pump systems could present placement challenges.
    • Your project may still install gas boiler systems in cities that have not banned gas. Gas water heating will trigger solar hot water preheat systems prescriptively.

The systems above will impact each other when performing a whole building energy model. Running an energy model as early as possible in the design phase is crucial for assessing solar and battery budgets and placement or whether gas use can be eliminated.

Early versions of the energy models have proved challenging, and energy modelers are doing their best to get complex buildings to comply without errors. Please submit your plans as early as possible to help modelers better understand system selection options.

For more information or if you would like VCA Green to provide an early energy modeling assessment, please reach out to Moe Fakih or Robyn Vettraino below.

Moe Fakih, Principal

Robyn Vettraino, Principal