Why Hire an Energy Consultant?
Building Departments are required to enforce California’s Title 24 Building Energy Standards. As part of the permit process for new buildings and additions, calculations must be submitted showing that the proposed structure meets a minimum level of energy efficiency.
The calculations can be performed by either the package method of tallying building data and filling out forms or the performance method which relies on sophisticated computer simulations. The packages contain several sets of requirements that, when incorporated into the building plans, will result in compliance. This simple approach usually results in higher construction costs than if a more detailed, performance analysis is used. Furthermore, the package method sets specific minimum insulation levels and limits to the glass area, while performance methods are more flexible. Finally, the package method does not necessarily result in the most energy efficient structure.
Who can the permit seeker turn to for energy compliance solutions? Many architects, engineers or contractors realize that the regulations are complex. Thus, they usually hire a qualified energy consultant.
The qualified energy consultant will:
- Choose the compliance method which meets the client’s goals, whether that be least cost construction or the most energy efficient structure. Cost-effective compliance strategies can save thousands of dollars in construction costs.
- Use the method of choice with an approved computer program and provide an energy compliance package for building department approval.
- Know any local jurisdiction idiosyncrasies to assure that their Title 24 report will proceed smoothly through the plan check process.
- Advise the client on a variety of matters such as upcoming changes in the Energy Standards; new energy saving equipment, appliances and devices; the latest information on new types of insulation, glazing and other building components.
How to Hire an Energy Consultant
The process of choosing an energy consultant is very similar to selecting other professional services:
- EXPERIENCE – Use an energy consultant with experience preparing code compliance calculations. Some designers do energy calculations as a sideline, preparing reports just once in a while. Although they may be capable of filling out the forms, it is doubtful as to whether they can provide cost-effective, energy saving compliance options.
- CERTIFICATION – The best qualification an energy consultant can probably have is to be certified. The California Association of Building Energy Consultants’ (CABEC’s) Certified Energy Analyst (CEA) certification requires passing an extremely comprehensive two-part exam, proof of a depth of experience, annual cotinuing education requirements, and adherence to a strict code of ethics. View a list of current CEAs and related information here: Current certified CEAs. You may also contact the CABEC Executive Director, who is listed under our Contact Us feature under the MAIN MENU to the left.
- RECOMMENDATIONS – Another good way is to seek out personal recommendations from acquaintances or building professionals who have recently used an energy consultant.
- PHONE BOOK – Most yellow pages have a listing for “Energy Consulting & Documentation” or something similar. Make sure to get references, and ask if they have experience before considering them for your project.