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Program Overview and Policies

What is SBD?

Savings By Design (SBD) is California’s nonresidential new construction energy efficiency program, administered statewide and funded by Utility customers through the Public Purpose Programs surcharge applied to gas and electric services. Participating utilities include:

  • Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E)
  • San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E)
  • Southern California Edison Company (SCE)
  • Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas)
  • Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP)

Projects participating in Savings By Design receive services including design assistance, Owners Incentives, Design Team Incentives, and Energy Design Resources. Services begin in the project design phase and continue through construction completion.

Who can participate?

Savings By Design targets the primary decision-makers in new construction and renovation/remodeling projects including:

  • Building Owners
  • Developers
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Designers
  • Contractors
  • Builders
  • Energy Consultants

How do I know if my project is eligible?

To be eligible for Savings By Design, projects must be:

  • At a point where design changes are feasible, preferably in the conceptual or schematic design phase
  • Located in the service territory of a participating Utility and subject to payment of Public Goods Charge (PGC) for electric service and/or the gas surcharge for gas service
  • Within the definition of new construction

Program Approaches to Energy Efficient Buildings

What is a Whole Building Approach?

Using computer simulation, Whole Building analysis provides reliable comparisons of various efficiency alternatives and quantifies the effect of improving the building’s systems.

Significant Owner’s incentives (up to $150,000) are available for projects estimated to exceed Title 24 or standard practice baseline by at least 10% on a whole building performance basis. Owners meeting program requirements may be eligible to receive additional incentives:

  • End Use Monitoring Incentive

What is a Systems Approach?

Systems Approach project incentives are calculated using a flat incentive rate. Your Savings By Design representative can help you identify system options, quickly estimate the associated potential savings, and identify which systems qualify for generous incentives (up to $150,000):

  • Daylighting
  • Interior Lighting
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning
  • Service Hot Water
  • Other Systems and Processes

Cost and Incentives

How do you determine efficiency and incentives?

Owner and Design Team Incentives are based upon the project’s estimated annual energy and demand savings (kW, kWh and therms) and are calculated according to the rates and program entry levels shown in Savings By Design Participant Handbook.

When do I get paid?

Incentive payments are issued after construction completion is confirmed by an on-site verification and when all other required documentation has been received.

Is this a credit to my bill?

No, incentives are paid in the form of a check.

How much is a typical incentive?

Incentives vary by project and may range anywhere from $500 to $150,000.

Is there a cost to participate?

No, in fact design assistance and consulting is offered at no charge to the Owner or the Design Team. The level of assistance provided for a project varies based on the program approach—Whole Building or Systems. Assistance may be as simple as providing plan review and recommendations or may be as involved as full energy modeling with financial analysis on multiple options for energy efficient systems. Receiving design assistance does not obligate the Owner to implement the design recommendations.

General Program Questions

Who is the Design Team?

The Design Team is the group responsible for the design and implementation of the systems that affect the building’s overall energy consumption. The Design Team generally includes the building owner, project architect, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, lighting designer, energy consultant, and contractor.

Are design teams eligible?

Yes, under the Whole Building Approach.

When do I need to contact you?

At a point where design changes are feasible, preferably in the conceptual or schematic design phase.

How does this compare to Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)?

Savings By Design is a natural complement to LEED. Participating Savings By Design projects have many attributes that directly correlate with LEED certification requirements, so we encourage you to inquire with your local program representative, for further information.

How long do I have to build?

Projects have 48 months from the date of approval to complete construction.

How do I get started?

Contact your utility early in the design process to learn about program options and check funding availability.

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