New California energy code requires building systems to be ready for demand response energy management

Title 24 requires thermostats, HVAC systems, networked lighting controllers, and building automation systems to be ready for two-way communication

Starting in June, California’s latest version of its Title 24 building code kicks in, requiring several systems come with demand response capability. Every new or retrofit thermostat, HVAC system, networked lighting controller, and building automation system in the state will have to be ready for two-way, automated utility-to-customer energy management. Non-residential building lighting systems will be required to have daylight-matching adjustment, dimming and demand response capabilities.

These devices and systems will be required to be “capable of receiving and automatically responding to at least one standards-based messaging protocol” to receive signals from utilities. There are a few standards that meet the requirement— OpenADR, SEP 2.0, and HomePlug.

OpenADR was developed by the California Energy Commission and Berkeley Labs. It offers tools to allow buildings and utilities to communicate about energy availability, price, and how buildings can execute and confirm actions to reduce power use.

These standards were enacted after the California Energy Commission identified flaws in the state’s approach to demand response in a 2013 report, including a failure to reach modest goals set in 2007 to reduce peak demand by 5%. The solution may come from a market-based program to encourage users to reduce demand during peak energy use periods. The new demand-response standards pave the way for this option.


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