Manny Gonzalez – Standards for 2020

Green Home Builder Magazine

January 26, 2020

Title 24 standards have evolved over the decades. How will they come into play in 2020?


The year was 1978 and the major news stories included the first test-tube baby being born in England, Sony introducing the first Walkman, and Sweden recognizing the effects of aerosol sprays on the ozone layer and banning their sale. It was also the year that the California Building Standards Commission created Title 24 to ensure that building construction and system design and installation achieved a higher energy efficiency.

Some 50 years later, under the California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, the state has ambitious goals with the development of all new residential construction required to be net-zero energy (NZE) starting this year. In a time when providing affordable housing is one of the country’s biggest issues, it would seem at first glance that this new code would make any new home even less affordable. But, instead of seeing this as a barrier to sales, some industry leaders are looking at it as a challenge and an opportunity to sell even more homes.

With the completion of the 4th generation ABC Green Home, Peninsula Publishing/ Builder. Media continues to demonstrate that NZE homes can be “Affordable, Buildable and Certifiable.” The brainchild of Nick Slevin, Peninsula Publishing’s Publisher and Editor-in- Chief, nearly a decade ago, “It was a home run,” said Slevin. “At least 32,000 folks toured the first home at the Great Park in Irvine. We were on TV, in newspapers and magazines, and all over the internet.” Although the ABC Green Homes were all built-in California, their impact on homebuilding reaches from coast to coast.

In 2014, KB Home launched its latest demonstration home, the Double ZeroHouse 3.0 in El Dorado Hills, California, emphasizing both water and energy efficiency. It was the first NZE KB home with renewable energy generation and storage capabilities and a fully integrated, network-connected home experience with resource-efficient, state-of-the-art appliances.

In April of 2019, Meritage Homes opened the first all-electric NZE attached condominium community, CitySquare, in Southern California. Garbett Homes has been building net-zero-ready homes in Utah for years utilizing both solar and geothermal energy sources. Forward-thinking production homebuilders are showing the industry that incorporating sustainable practices can be a competitive advantage.

Up until now, these developers made the choice to do this. Going forward, however, NZE will be mandatory, at least in California so far. It will be interesting to see how other states implement this requirement. It took California 50 years to go from mandating R-11 insulation in walls and R-19 in ceilings to requiring all new residential construction to have NZE consumption. I can remember doing manual hand-written Title 24 calculations when I designed my first residence over 40 years ago. Now we can produce elaborate energy modeling for buildings. We have come a long way with sustainability in 50 years, but what will we see next?

Just a year ago, the KB Home ProjeKt was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show and International Builders’ Show. Incorporating the latest research and development, it took sustainable construction to a new level incorporating “Health and Wellness” into the home. It also utilized the Entekra fabrication process dramatically reducing not only construction waste but construction time.

1978, the first year of California’s green code, also saw the death of Margaret Mead, a noted cultural anthropologist. This quote from her remains timeless; “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”

As companies like Peninsula Publishing, KB Home, and Entekra continue to pioneer ways to create healthier living environments, they are shedding a light on where the industry will be headed in the future. Keep an eye on the thoughtful, committed architects, builders, and industry publications as they lead us into the next decade of sustainable design.