Office of Energy and Sustainable Development
Office of Energy and Sustainable Development

Residential and Commercial Energy Conservation Ordinance Update

With nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in Berkeley coming from buildings, it is critical that we continue to advance innovative and smart energy efficiency strategies for our homes and businesses. On September 10, 2013, City Council adopted a resolution directing staff to initiate a public process to update the City's existing Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance (RECO) and Commercial Energy Conservation Ordinance (CECO) laws.

The Role of RECO and CECO Berkeley's current RECO and CECO laws require buildings that are transferred or remodeled to install water and energy saving measures in order to reduce the electricity and natural gas usage and curb greenhouse gas emissions. RECO and CECO, enacted in 1987 and 1994 respectively, have played an important role in improving the energy efficiency of the existing building stock and saving the community money on utility bills while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Why Update the Current RECO and CECO? Despite the fact that the current RECO and CECO laws have served as critical components of Berkeley's energy efficiency policy to date, updates are needed if Berkeley is going to reach its Climate Action Plan (CAP) goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions locally. Additionally, the current RECO/CECO ordinances include some measures that are out of date with building science and lag behind the current Title 24 California Energy Code. Ability to achieve the CAP goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 33% by 2020 is contingent on making Berkeley’s existing residential, commercial, and municipal building stock more energy efficient. Increased energy efficiency has non-energy benefits as well, including improved occupant comfort and indoor air quality and lower utility bills.

Improving RECO and CECO In order to more effectively enable increased energy and water efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, City Council has directed staff to initiate a public process to update the City's RECO/CECO laws. In addition to increased energy savings, desired outcomes of the new updated RECO/CECO include:

  • User-friendly compliance and compliance tracking
  • Consistency with Title 24 California Energy Code
  • Measurable outcomes and evaluation of energy and water savings from RECO/CECO
  • Tools to ensure transparent disclosure of building energy information
  • Minimized compliance costs by matching requirements with rebates

Updated Ordinance The Berkeley Energy Commission and staff of the Office of Energy and Sustainable Development have developed a draft ordinance to replace RECO and CECO with an updated Building Energy Saving Ordinance (BESO). The proposed draft ordinance would:

  • Remove existing requirements to install minimum RECO and CECO measures at time of sale or remodel.
  • Require all buildings to conduct and disclose an energy report on a regular basis with a phase-in schedule through 2025 for all buildings from largest to smallest.
  • Require medium and small buildings to comply at time of sale prior to their scheduled phase-in date. 

The draft ordinance will be presented to the Housing Advisory Commission, Community Environmental Advisory Commission and Rent Board Safe and Sustainable Housing Committee for comments prior to going to the City Council. For more information, see the Draft Building Energy Saving Ordinance and BESO Energy Commission Report (July 28, 2014).

RECO/CECO Update Outreach Process The public process will engage energy experts, key stakeholders and the Berkeley community in how best to update these ordinances. City staff are meeting with stakeholders and the Berkeley Energy Commission is hosting a series of workshops in order to inform residents and businesses and get feedback as requirements are updated for single family homes as well as multi-family and commercial buildings.To sign up to be notified for upcoming meetings, please email: greenbuilding@cityofberkeley.info

Workshops: The Berkeley Energy Commission Workshops held three community workshops on following dates:

Stakeholder Meetings City staff have met with groups and individuals to answer questions and get input, including, but not limited to:

  • Berkeley Association of Realtors; presentation to Realtors May 28, 2014
  • Berkeley Chamber of Commerce
  • Berkeley Climate Action Coalition
  • Berkeley Property Owners Association
  • Business District Associations
  • Berkeley Rent Board

 If you or your organization would like to provide feedback, please contact greenbuilding@cityofberkeley.info.

Resources and Documents:

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