Santa Monica adopts Zero Net Energy Code for all new single family construction

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On May 1, 2017 Santa Monica became the first city to adopt zero-net energy (ZNE) requirements.  The State of California is planning to implement such a code state-wide but this will not be implemented until the 2020 T-24 code cycle so Santa Monica is out in front with net-zero.

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The basic premise of ZNE requires projects to generate enough of their own energy from renewable energy sources (solar PV for example), to equal what they use from the utility grid over the course of a year.  For now this requirement only applies to new residential projects, not additions or alterations.

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However the ZNE requirement is parallel to the city’s Energy Reach Code which requires all new low-rise residential projects to be designed to use 15% less energy than the allowable energy budget established by the 2016 California Energy Code (Title-24).  This presents some challenges as projects that may comply with the reach code (15% better than T-24) may not comply as a ZNE project.  Conversely projects that can demonstrate ZNE compliance may still fall short of the 15% better than T-24 energy use.  One does not always equal the other.

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This new code update became effective May 1, 2017.  This emphasizes the importance of getting your Title-24 Energy Consultant involved in your project early in the design process as most projects will struggle to comply and will involve a lot of back and forth as different design and energy saving strategies are modeled, tested and revised to get the project over the finish line cost-effectively.

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Link to news release

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Link to detailed ZNE and Reach Code explanation

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