Tuesday, September 4, 2012

California’s 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards are First Ever to Include Dynamic Glazing and Window Films

The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently approved the nation's most stringent energy efficiency standards for residential and commercial buildings, and the new requirements for the thermal performance of windows are expected to contribute to the estimated 25 percent reduction in statewide energy use.

The new standards require more efficient residential windows to allow increased sunlight while decreasing heat gain. Additionally, the standards require the addition of sensors to allow the optimal use of daylighting in nonresidential high-performance windows. While both of these changes are predicted to spur improvements, it is the finer details of how the new standards will accomplish this that will have the most influence, the fenestration industry.

According to Nelson Peña, Associate Mechanical Engineer of the California Energy Commission’s (CEC), the approval of these standards is groundbreaking for the fenestration industry because it is the first time in any energy code that dynamic glazing (chromogenic glazing and integrated shaded system) and window films, as new technology, have ever been included.
Window films are described in Title 24, Part 6, as being used for retrofitting existing serviceable windows (single and double pane window) or alterations to existing windows. Peña emphasizes that window films are not to be used for new-construction projects, but mostly likely be seen used in existing commercial buildings.

Additionally, window films or applied window films must be NFRC-certified to receive credit for the applied film efficiencies and must have a 10 year warranty and can only be modeled using computer performance approach.

The requirement for automatic controls for chromogenic glazing is also a novel inclusion in the new California requirements. Peña says that unlike the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), CEC implemented this requirement in order to assure usage of the best rated values.

The new 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, approved on May 31, 2012 by a 4-0 vote, are expected to reduce energy use throughout the state by at least 25 percent and will go into effect on January 1, 2014.

CEC Energy Commissioner, Karen Douglas said, “The update for building standards is the biggest incremental improvement in efficiency that we've ever made in California."

Within the first year of implementation, the Standards are projected to add up to 3,500 new building industry jobs. Over the long-term, the new standards are expected to save enough electricity to power 1.7 million homes and avoid the need to construct six new power plants.

The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) recognizes the many benefits of building energy codes, which are minimum requirements for efficient design and construction. These requirements include contributing to sustainability, lowering operating costs in residential and non-residential buildings, and creating healthier and more comfortable living and working conditions.

In fact, understanding building energy codes helps people choose the windows, doors, and skylights that maximize these benefits, and NFRC's Certified Products Directory (CPD) can help. Users can quickly and easily compare products and acquire the energy performance information they need to meet or exceed the building energy codes in their location.