Building Codes and Sustainable Preservation

TITLE 24 PART 6: Energy Code

While exemption from energy efficiciency standards are meant to protect historic buildings from alterations meeting prescriptive and performance energy standards that may reduce their historic integrity, there are many ways to achieve increased energy efficiency and retain historic character. The 2016 Energy Code, Residential Compliance Manual and the Nonresidential Compliance Manual are inckluded here dfor reference. The Residential and Nonresidential Manuals additionally define 'Qualified Historical Buildings' as exempt from energy efficiency standards in their introductions.

2016 CA Energy Code Part 6

2016 CA Nonresidential Compliance Manual

2016 CA Residential Compliance Manual







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TITLE 24 PART 8: California Historical Building Code

2016 CA CHBC


Title 24, Part 8, The California Historical Building Code (CHBC), Section 8-901.5, exempts "Qualified Historical Buildings" from California Energy Efficiency Standards, with limited exceptions. A "Qualified Historical Building or Property" is defined as any building, site, object, place, location, district or collection of structures, and their associated sites, deemed of importance to the history, architecture or culture of an area by an appropriate local, state or federal governmental jurisdiction. This shall include historical buildings or properties on, or determined eligible for, national, state or local historical registers or inventories, such as the National Register of Historic Places, California Register of Historical Resources, State Historical Landmarks, State Points of Historical Interest, and city or county registers, inventories or surveys of historical or architecturally significant sites, places or landmarks.

The Code is adminitrated by the State Historical Building Safety Board (SHBSB). Questions about its application may be directed to them.

Exemption from energy efficiciency standards are meant to protect historic buildings from alterations meeting prescriptive or performance energy standards that may reduce their historic integrity. The rehabilitation project as a whole must still meet the "regular" California Building Code. The CHBC provides alternative code compliance to preserve character-defining features of a historic building. Alternative provisions to the code are usually applied on a case-by-case basis in consultation and agreement with the local code official.  Where disagreements arise regarding the application of the code, the SHBSB may be consulted.

Chapters address alternative codes for:

  • Use and Occupancy
  • Fire Protection
  • Means of Egress
  • Accessibility
  • Structural Regulations
  • Archaic Materials and Methods of Construction
  • Mechanical, Plumbing and Electrical Requirements
  • Qualified Historical Districts, Sites and Open Spaces

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TITLE 24 PART11: CALGreen Code

2016 CalGreen Part 11

The purpose of CALGreen is to improve public health, safety and general welfare by enhancing the design and construction of buildings through the use of building concepts having a reduced negative impact or positive environmental impact on the environment.

It encourages sustainable construction practices in the following categories:

  • Planning and design
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency and conservation
  • Material conservation and resource efficiency
  • Environmental quality

The provisions of this code are directed to construction under the purview of state agencies:

  • State-owned buildings, including buildings constructed by the Trustees of the California State University, and buildings by the Regents of the University of California and regulated by the California Building Standards Commission.
  • Energy efficiency standards regulated by the California Energy Commission.
  • Low-rise residential buildings including hotels, apartments, dwellings, dormitories, shelters, factory-built and other dwellings containing sleeping accommodations regulated by the Department of Housing and Community Development.
  • Public elementary and secondary schools, and community college buildings regulated by the Division of the State Architect within the California Department of General Services.
  • Qualified historical buildings and structures and their associated sites regulated by the State Historical Building Safety Board within the Division of the State Architect within the California Department of General Services.
  • General acute care hospitals, acute psychiatric hospitals, clinics licensed by the Department of Public Health and correctional treatment centers regulated by the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development within the California Health and Human Services Agency.
  • Graywater systems regulated by the California Department of Water Resources and the California Department of Housing and Community Development.


CalGreen provides two Tiers of voluntary measures, that supply additional requirements and prerequisites that further lessen the environmental impact of new construction. These voluntary measures for residential and nonresidential construction may be adopted by cities as part of their building code, and therefore relevant to private construction. These voluntary measures are outlined in Appendices A4 and A5, and include model ordinances for cities to adopt the code.

As such, Qualified Historical Buildings may remain exempt (with certain limitations) or elect to meet the Code while retaining character-defining features.

International Green Construction Code

The International Code Council is in the process of formulating an International Green Construction Code. As part of its review, the Council has identified three categories of existing buildings to be evaluated: the first category includes all buildings constructed under the green code, which become by definition existing buildings following issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy; the second category includes buildings constructed prior to the adoption of the green code that would come partially or fully under the code by virtue of subsequent alteration or expansion; and the third category would encompass all remaining existing buildings.