You’re dealing with regulations and codes every day. And if you offer services in California, you've likely encountered Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations and know its impact on your residential HVAC business. In this article, we take a closer look at the latest version of California Title 24 to unpack what it can mean for you. Let's dive right in!
What is California Title 24?
California Title 24 is also called the California Building Standards Code. This set of regulations published by the California Building Standards Commission governs the design and construction of buildings in the state, with the goal of safe, healthy, and energy-efficient buildings.
The California Title 24 2019 was recently updated to California Title 24 Building Code, which took effect on January 1, 2023. California Title 24 includes revisions to the California Energy Code, the Building Energy Efficiency Standards, and other codes and standards relating to HVAC systems, lighting, ventilation, and solar requirements, applying to all new builds and significant alterations in CA.
HVAC system requirements under Title 24 California
Here's a refresh of some of the most relevant requirements and recent changes for HVAC systems in California Title 24:
1. Correct sizing of HVAC systems
California Title 24, specifically Part 6 (Energy Building Code) states that HVAC systems must be sized correctly using the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Manual J (or an equivalent calculation method) to meet the building's heating and cooling needs.
This requirement applies to the following:
- New construction projects in California that are seeking permits on or after January 1, 2023.
- Retrofits if they involve the installation of new or replacement HVAC equipment.
The calculations must take the following into account, among other factors:
- Size of the building
- Number of occupants
- Building orientation
- Climate zone (different regions vary in climate control requirements)
2. Proper sealing and insulation of duct systems
Title 24 California mandates HVAC businesses to follow the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Manual D for duct design and installation. This standard provides duct system guidelines to meet the building's thermal requirements while minimizing energy loss and pressure imbalances. Alternative duct design methods may be used if they are shown to be equivalent to Manual D in accordance with the California Mechanical Code (CMC).
HVAC businesses must see to it that all joints and connections are properly sealed with duct mastic or metal-backed tape. Additionally, they should use insulation with a minimum R-value of 6 on all ductwork in unconditioned spaces, such as attics or crawl spaces.
3. Adequate ventilation
California Title 24 ventilation requirements cover all new buildings. It mandates that mechanical ventilation systems be designed to provide adequate outdoor air to all occupied spaces.
As you know, these regulations are intended to ensure indoor air quality (IAQ). The minimum ventilation rate is set at 15 cubic feet per minute per occupant. This means that the amount of fresh outdoor air entering a building must be sufficient to replace 0.35 times the total volume of air within the building in one hour.
The standard similarly adds, particularly for commercial settings, that an exhaust system be installed in areas where hazardous materials are used or stored to remove any potentially harmful air contaminants.
The impact of Title 24 California on HVAC industry players and property owners
We’re sure you are on top of the significant impact of California Title 24 on the HVAC industry, homeowners, and engineers, but here’s a refresher on what it means for each:
1. Property owners
California Title 24 also mandates a certain renewable energy capacity for new buildings. According to Title 24 Part 6 of the 2022 California Energy Code requires newly constructed single-family homes and multi-family buildings up to three stories high from the year 2020 onwards to install solar panels. However, small residential projects with a model that shows less than a 180-Kw requirement are exempted from this requirement. This provision of the law is intended to cover the household’s energy needs.
2. Engineers and architects
Under Part 6 of the revised Title 24 California, The U.S. Department of Energy’s updated efficiency standards are applied. These apply to all newly manufactured residential and commercial air conditioners and heat pumps. Examples of these regulations include the following:
- All newly constructed homes are now required to be equipped with dedicated 240V outlets and ample space for electric water heaters. This ensures that homes are electric-ready and can seamlessly transition from gas-powered appliances to their electric counterparts.
- To reduce the amount of indoor air pollution, newly constructed homes need to install better kitchen ventilation systems over cooktops.
- The addition of more than 1,000 square feet to a home will require equipment or system adjustments based on the prescribed mechanical ventilation airflow rate.
All applications for project permits from January 1, 2023 and onwards should comply with this new version of the code. Tactically, that means non-compliant equipment will need to be phased out over time.
3. HVAC contractors
While your job remains unchanged - you're already calculating the heating and cooling loads, sizing equipment, and evaluating airflow, the paperwork and testing process may require more work for your business.
How can Conduit Tech help?
At Conduit Tech, we understand the challenges you face in staying on top of constantly changing regulations like California Title 24. That's why we've developed cutting-edge technology that helps boost compliance with automated load calculation reports that you can submit.
Our tech can scan homes to rapidly calculate room dimensions and use these to create room-by-room load calculations for effortless, customizable, and accurate equipment recommendations. HVAC pros get support every step of the way, from optimizing the sales process to producing critical outputs for permitting.
Remain ahead of the curve in energy efficiency and building safety with Conduit Tech. Request a demo today!