Home   >   Start Here   >   Incentives & Assistance

Incentives & Assistance


Energy efficient buildings save money, showcase performance, and demonstrate how we can live within our environmental means. From both an environmental and sustainability standpoint, the well-designed building becomes truly relevant in today’s architectural dialogue. Administered by California utilities, Savings By Design encourages high-performance, non-residential building design and construction, and a variety of solutions to building owners and design teams.


To encourage owners to invest in energy efficiency as a major goal in their new buildings, financial incentives are available to owners when the efficiency of their new building exceeds the minimum Savings By Design threshold (generally 10% better than Title 24 Energy Efficiency Standards).

Design Team

Financial incentives are available to design teams who make the extra effort when integrating energy efficiency with exceptional design. The design team may qualify for incentives when the building design saves at least 10% and the owner agrees to participate in the program. Other incentives for design teams are available. Contact your utility representative early in the design process to see which options meet your needs.

Benefits of Participation

Projects participating in Savings By Design may 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. Design assistance can range from simple plan review and/or efficiency upgrade recommendations to complete computer simulation analysis comparing a number of alternative systems and integrated building design options. Financial incentives, to help offset increased design interaction and potential costs of construction, are available for projects that exceed thresholds established by the program. Participation in the program brings additional benefits, such as reduced long-term operating costs, greater comfort, health and productivity for occupants, and conservation of natural resources and cleaner air due to avoided power generation.

Designed for Nonresidential New Construction Projects. Savings By Design targets the primary decision-makers in new construction and renovation/remodel projects: building Owners, developers, architects, engineers, designers, contractors, builders, and energy consultants. Savings By Design analyses provide detailed technical and financial assistance data that allows Owners and Design Teams to make informed decisions regarding energy efficiency features. The program serves commercial, industrial, and agricultural customers and utilizes the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24, Part 6) as a reference baseline for comparison. The program encourages and moves energy savings within projects to perform better than mandated by Title 24. Other industry standards may be used where appropriate to determine reference baselines for comparisons.

Whole Building Approach

Owner Incentives

The Whole Building Approach is the preferred method of achieving energy savings within Savings By Design. Enabling the design team to consider integrated energy efficiency solutions that balance electric and gas use, may lead to buildings that offer:

  • Greater health, comfort, and productivity for the occupant
  • Reduced building and operating costs for the owner

In the Whole Building Approach, the estimated total annual energy savings for the building is calculated compared to the Title 24 minimum requirements. Using an approved computer tool, this analysis can be prepared by the design team, or by an energy consultant provided by the utility. Owner’s Incentives are available for projects estimated to exceed Title 24 or standard practice baseline by at least 10% on a whole building performance basis. Owner Incentives range from $0.10 – $0.30 per annualized kWh savings, with a step increase to $0.40 per annualized kWh savings for projects that exceed Title 24 by 40%, and $1.00 per annualized therm savings as the design becomes more efficient. Owners may also qualify for demand reduction incentives of $100 per kW.

Owners meeting program requirements may be eligible to receive additional incentives:

  • End Use Monitoring Incentive

Each incentive is calculated as 10% or 20% of the Owner’s Incentive respectively. The maximum incentive per project is $150,000.

Whole Building Incentives

Design Team Incentives

Savings By Design encourages a team approach to the design of energy efficient buildings. By working together to integrate the systems within a building, the design team can more effectively design efficient facilities that may qualify for Design Team Incentives*. Encouraging teams to explore these higher levels of energy efficiency, these incentives help offset some of the added costs resulting from investigating enhanced options, and promotes energy efficient features in a new construction projects. To qualify for Design Team Incentives, the team uses the Whole Building Approach and a computer simulation model to optimize their design.

*Design Team Assistance to be offered in lieu of Design Team Incentives in SDG&E service territory.

  • The model calculates the energy savings of the building compared to the Title 24 baseline.
  • The Design Team qualifies for incentives when the building design saves at least 10%.
  • Design Team incentives range from $0.033 – $0.13 per annualized kWh savings and $0.333 per annualized therm savings as the design becomes more efficient.
  • The maximum incentive per project is $50,000.

The Design Team will submit a summary report of one qualifying proposed integrated design.

  • Projects exceeding Title 24 by at least 10% will receive Design Team Incentives upon construction completion and verification.
  • Design teams submitting projects that perform at least 30% better than Title 24 are now eligible to receive 50% of the incentive upon utility acceptance of the proposed design.
  • The balance of the incentive will be paid upon construction completion and verification.

Systems Approach

The Systems Approach is a method of optimizing energy efficiency choices for less complex buildings. By considering building systems holistically rather than as a collection of components, the Systems Approach encourages greater energy efficiency by designing “whole” building systems, rather than individual equipment or fixtures. It’s a straightforward approach, and the Design Team may find it more appropriate for their project. Your Savings By Design Representative can help by:

  • Using a simplified energy simulation modeling tool to help your team identify system options and quickly estimate the associated potential savings
  • Identifying which systems qualify for potential Owner Incentives

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:

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

Daylighting Systems

Daylighting has a major impact on a building’s functionality from many perspectives. Not only does it decrease energy costs associated with illumination and space conditioning, it also enhances the building’s comfort and ambiance — resulting in increased productivity of its occupants.

Interior Lighting Systems

Interior lighting is a major component of any building’s energy use, enhancing the functionality of interior spaces. Energy usage can be reduced with thoughtful attention to illumination requirements within the building, along with specifications for efficient components and appropriate controls.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Systems

The design of high-performance HVAC systems includes high-efficiency equipment and controls that regulate the system to allow operation only when it’s needed. Thoughtful consideration of the interactions of all system elements can substantially increase comfort for building occupants while cutting costs for the building owner.

Service Hot Water Systems

The use of high-efficiency natural gas hot water heaters can help to round out an overall approach to energy savings in the building design. Facilities that use large amounts of hot water can see substantial savings when a high-efficiency system is used.

Other Systems and Processes

A variety of process systems and controls not regulated by Title 24 can be considered for the Savings By Design program. Current industry standard practice is used to establish a reference point from which estimated energy savings are determined for manufacturing, refrigeration, food processing, mechanical ventilation systems and other systems and processes.

Systems Approach Incentives

Comments are closed.