A bill moving through the Legislature allows the California Energy Commission to enforce energy and water efficiency standards for the built environment, and imposes penalties of $2,500 per violation of those standards. AB 834, which the AIACC Opposes, is expected to pass the State Assembly at any time, and then would have to be heard in the State Senate before being sent to the Governor.
According to the author of AB 834, this bill is needed because:
Our standards for building efficiency are recognized as leading the nation in energy savings and serves as one of the primary energy policy tools that resulted in California’s per capita energy use staying essentially constant over the past 30 years, while the rest of the United States’ consumption increased steadily. However, the effectiveness of the building energy efficiency standards is dependent on compliance with the standards. Violations of these standards not only threaten energy savings, they also result in a substantial financial loss to consumers who purchase energy efficiency goods and services and represent unfair competition that dramatically impacts the viability of legitimate businesses.
AB 834 is needed to ensure that reported energy savings are real, consumers who purchase services for home improvement are protected, and businesses that provide energy efficiency services are operating on a level playing field.
The main target of AB 834 is the illegal project that is built without a building permit and is not designed or constructed in compliance with the building code. The AIACC does not have any concern with AB 834 focusing on those types of projects. However, the scope of AB 834 is not limited to illegal projects. It includes legally permitted and inspected projects designed by architects. Unfortunatley, the author has rejected calls to remove legally permitted and inspected projects from the scope of the bill.
The AIACC Board of Directors adopted its “Oppose” position because:
- The plans prepared by architects are reviewed by a government entity for compliance with California’s building standards
- Disciplinary action against architects should be administered by the California Architects Board
- Any enforcement by the Energy Commission likely would not consider standard of care or negligence
- Even when an architect is not at fault, any administrative investigation by the Energy Commission will require an architect to spend significant time and money documenting the architect’s compliance with all relevant building standards
The AIACC will continue to oppose this bill, and ask for projects that receive government plan review and construction inspection to be exempted from AB 834.
Do you have any comments on AB 834?