Three reasons California multifamily builders want to incorporate HPW before 2020

California’s current energy code, Title 24, establishes construction of high performance walls (HPW) as the base model in all new low-rise multifamily buildings. Many builders elect to build to the performance path, which allows for conventional walls if the builder installs other performance features, most often solar photovoltaics (PV).

There are many factors for builders to assess when considering whether to incorporate HPW into new buildings now—including the fact that the 2019 version of Title 24 is just around the corner. Below are three reasons California builders want to incorporate HPW into multifamily new construction.

Be Prepared for the 2019 Code

On January 1, 2020—15 months away—2019 California building code will come into effect. The 2019 code not only requires more efficient energy measures, it also removes commonly used HPW tradeoffs such as quality insulation installation (QII) and solar PV. With these code updates, builders overwhelmingly will have to include HPW in new construction to comply with code requirements; other common energy efficiency options are simply not as beneficial as HPW in terms of energy savings.

California Multifamily New Homes’ (CMFNH) experience informs us that builders should consider HPW in their projects now. The learning curve to understanding, training, and executing this new design into construction may take a few rounds. CMFNH projects that incorporated HPW into the conceptual design phase, before schematics, were the most successful from both an operations and profitability perspective. Learning such lessons before the updated code takes effect can reduce design issues and impact profitability for your projects. As a bonus, by including these measures in your design now can qualify for increased incentives through the CMFNH program during the current code cycle.

Builder Owner Benefits

Incorporating HPW into a multifamily home design  provides marketing benefits, , and HPW can even help you on the path to third-party certifications such as ENERGY STAR®  or the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home program.

CMFNH assisted the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo’s project called 860 on the Wye with incorporating HPW into design and construction. By incorporating HPW along with all-electric appliances, all-electric space heating and cooling, and all-electric hot water, among other measures, 860 on the Wye expects on-site solar PV to offset 100 percent of electricity use at the site.

Incorporating high-performance features into the design of multifamily buildings—especially when combined with a well-recognized efficiency certification—can help owners attract and retain residents, and even increase net operating income.

Get Incentives While they are Available

Programs such as CMFNH provide incentives for the construction of HPW. In fact, CMFNH provides an additional bonus kicker of $25 per unit for the installation of HPW. This is in addition to your normal incentive based on what’s called the Energy Design Rating (EDR) which rewards builders with more incentives for deeper energy savings for low-rise projects, or your percent above Title 24 code for high-rise projects.

When the 2019 code kicks in, programs may limit, decrease, or phase out such incentives, or prioritize funds for other measures. Contact CMFNH today to take advantage of incentives that help make these designs more cost effective for builders.


Phone: (866) 352-7457

Program Application: