The new Title 24 rules for higher energy efficiency in homes and buildings will have builders scrambling to find cost effective means of reaching these new values. There are 16 different climate zones that have different requirements but any building with steel studs will be affected as a result of “thermal bridging”. This is the transference of energy from inside the structure to out through the more dense material. In many climate zones the home builder will have to find ways to better insulate their homes and at the same time stay competitive and give the potential home buyer more home for less money so the banks will loan money for them. One way to do this is using foam on the entire outside of the home. This was called “one-coat” Stucco in the 1980’s but is now referred to as “continuous insulation systems”. This system uses a different wire over the foam sheets that is slightly thinner and has less “furring” to hold less material or cement in the wire. Typical 3 coat systems have 7/8 inch of material to make up the wall where “CI” systems use about a ½”. The foam not only helps insulate the house but serves as another barrier to water intrusion. The foam absorbs some movement and therefore it could be argued that cracking would be lessened. This is probably how the home builder is going to address the increased requirements in the future as the other solutions can be quite expensive. They can add solar panels; use more energy efficient doors and windows. They can use better HVAC systems (heating and air conditioning). However these methods are more costly. The one thing that the consumer must be aware however is the potential for a soft wall or increased cracking because of overloading of sand in the Cement Product. The manufacturers produce these products as concentrates and the plastering contractor uses sand that is brought to the job-site separately. Sand is less expensive than the one-coat concentrate so more sand added saves money. The issue then is how to control how much sand goes into each sack of material and ultimately on our homes. The more stringent waste water and run-off requirements may solve this problem for us. The State of California is becoming more stringent in dictating what goes into our storm drains and run-off. Job sites are now required to have catch basins for cement effluent and piles of sand are increasingly not allowed because of what they add to waste run-off. Pre-sanded products will more than likely be required and will start in communities that have more stringent rules regarding raw materials set ups. Manufacturers’ can use the proper amounts of sand in their products as well as the right type and purity of material. This also can reduce cracking and make sure the strength of the wall is maximized. Other markets such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and Central California have utilized this method of building for many years. I think that with proper controls we can adopt this method in Southern California without the litigation that some of these other markets have been subject to.