GEO comments on California building code that curbs GHPs

Springfield, Ill. – The Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) provided comments to a California Energy Commission (CEC) Workshop Docket, addressing problems with the Title 24 energy code for building permits that limits the use of geothermal heat pumps in the state.

“California is a state of diversity – in its geography, population and industries,” said GEO President Doug Dougherty. “GEO believes that the same must hold true for energy sources if the state is to achieve its energy efficiency, carbon reduction, water conservation and net zero building goals for the future.”

The current Title 24 energy code does not recognize the efficiency of geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) and the contribution they could make to California’s energy goals. This is in spite of the fact that over a million GHP systems are in place across North America and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes GHPs as the most cost effective carbon reducing strategy for space conditioning and water heating.

“Under the current Title 24 process, building designers and owners must struggle to get GHP’s into their projects. The Title 24 compliance process requires using ‘work around’ approaches to get GHPs through the State’s energy compliance software.  Worse, the California Energy Commission (CEC) is close to adopting its 2016 Building (energy) Code, which as currently written would simply exclude super-efficient GHP heating and cooling technology from use in California. In fact, the CEC is on a path to mandate polluting natural gas heating and water heating in all new construction starting in 2016.”

“With other geothermal heat pump industry stakeholders,” Dougherty said, “GEO asks for a blanket approval of GHPs in the current and future versions of Title 24 code until the CEC can develop an alternative compliance method for the technology. Simply defaulting to a fossil fuel – natural gas produced primarily by fracking with its high release of ‘leaked’ methane is unacceptable both in terms of its own contribution to greenhouse gases and its future cost to the citizens of California.”

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