By Joey Balducci, PE  | Discipline Manager, Mechanical Engineering | Orange County Office

As of January 1, 2023, we are in a new code cycle for the California Energy Code. As we dive into projects requiring compliance with the 2022 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24, Part 6), we want to note some important changes to keep in mind during design and construction.


1) Hotel/Motel Occupancies now have the same mandatory requirements for power and lighting as nonresidential occupancies.

  • This could potentially result in cost increases from shutoff control requirements and lighting fixture requirements to comply with nonresidential design.

2) New prescriptive requirements for photovoltaic (PV) systems for commercial buildings. For many applications, this mandates the installation of PV and battery systems [140.10]

  • Grocery, office, retail, school, and public gathering spaces are a few examples where it will be required for new construction, as well as additions.

3) All interior lighting (except in healthcare facilities) will be required to meet the shutoff control requirements when spaces are unoccupied [130.1(c)]. Methods include:

  • Occupant sensing control
  • Automatic time-switch control
  • Other devices capable of turning off all lighting when the space is unoccupied

Mechanical & Plumbing

1) HVAC equipment efficiencies requirements have increased, and new requirements have been added for equipment (not included in past versions of the code [110.2]). The systems added include:

  • Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems (DOAS)
  • Air conditioners serving computer rooms, data centers, etc.
  • Heat pump and heat recovery chiller packages

2) Hotel/Motel Occupancies will now have the same mandatory requirements for water heating as nonresidential occupancies.

  • This may result in potential cost increases from additional water circulating and storage tank temperature requirements.

3) Heat pump units are now mandatory under 20 tons of cooling capacity, to support of the decarbonization goals and eventual phasing out of natural gas. Some exceptions apply depending on the project climate zone [140.4(a)2].

4) High-capacity boiler and water heating systems (>1,000,000 BTU/hour) have increased thermal efficiency requirements to 90% [140.4(k)][140.5(a)].

  • If the equipment is powered using on-site renewables, site-recovered energy, or heat recovery chillers that provide at least 25% of space heating, then the facility is exempt from the requirement.

5) The requirement for economizers on air handling equipment has been reduced from 54,000 BTU/hour in the previous code cycle down to 33,000 BTU/hour [140.4(e)].

  • There are exceptions available for facilities using DOAS equipment or for controlled environment horticultural spaces.

6) Duct leakage testing in spaces less than 5,000 sf has been made a mandatory requirement where it was prescriptive in the previous cycle [120.4(g)].

  • There are exceptions for healthcare projects.

7) School buildings under 25,000 sf and less than four (4) stories will now be required to use heat pump water heaters meeting the requirements of 110.0, 110.3, and 120.3 [140.5(a)].

Building Envelope

For building envelope (Table 140.3-B):

  • Metal-framed wall maximum U-factor values have been reduced.
  • Fenestration U-factor, SHGC, and VT requirements have been updated for climate zones.

As always, please contact Coffman for more information. For our industry partners, if you are interested in code changes presentations, Coffman is an AIA Continuing Education provider. We offer code change presentations to satisfy AIA continuing education units. Resources and information sheets on the new updates can also be found at

For more information, contact Joey Balducci, PE.

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