Is Your Berkeley Home RECO Compliant? Energy Conservation Guidelines for Your Berkeley Home

Just what the heck is RECO compliance? RECO is Berkeley’s Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance and affects all residential property owners within Berkeley’s borders. Most homeowners are overwhelmed by the topic of RECO compliance, and rightfully so. Anytime a home is sold or substantially renovated, it must demonstrate compliance. The RECO ordinance states that every residential building sold or transferred in Berkeley or undergoing renovations valued at $50,000 or more must meet energy or water efficiency requirements.  CLICK HERE to download the City of Berkeley’s guide to RECO Compliance.

If you are looking to buy or sell a residential property in Berkeley you need to be aware of the guidelines that make up the compliance. Designed to improve water and energy efficiency, this program significantly reduces the energy costs associated with property ownership. More importantly it is a way for Berkeley property owners to do our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050. We are fortunate to live in an area that is very aware of the environment and our impact on it.  The RECO ordinance is truly a reflection of Berkeley’s culture and something we should take pride in.

So what does compliance really mean?  Here is the scoop…

RECO Requirements:

  • Toilets must be 1.6 gallon per flush of have flow reduction devices installed
  • Shower heads must have a flow rate of 3.0 gallons per minute or lower
  • Kitchen and bath faucets must have a flow rate of 2.75 gallon per minute or lower (free aerators are available from EBMUD)
  • Water heaters must have R-12 insulation wraps
  • Hot & cold water pipes must be insulated for the first 2 feet from the water heater
  • Insulate all hot water pipes in pumped, recirculating heating systems to R-3 value
  • Weatherstripping of all exterior doors (includes door sweeps or door shoes)
  • Furnace duct work must be sealed at the duct joints and insulated
  • Fireplace chimneys must have dampers, closures, and doors installed
  • Ceiling insulation must be insulated to R-30 value
  • In multi-unit buildings, common area lighting must have CFL or LED  bulbs of at least 25 lumens per watt.

Who’s Responsible?

If your home is being sold or substantially renovated and has not ever met the requirements it must be inspected and brought into compliance. Most homes sold or renovated since 1991 have already met the standards and may be in compliance. You can contact the City of Berkeley to find out if your property has undergone a RECO inspection via email at

For the most part in Berkeley responsibility for compliance is usually handled by the seller of the property. That being said, responsibility can be passed on to the buyer as  long as the responsibility has not been previously transferred in a previous sale. In this case the buyer will need to get a RECO Form A filed with the city and RECO requirements must be met within one year of date of sale.

The cost can seem excessive and especially after purchasing a home, but bear in mind that Energy Upgrade CA offers rebates of up to $4,000. The City of Berkeley also caps the amount of money that needs to be spent on these upgrades (see pdf above).

If list list and lingo left you scratching your head, never fear…There are resources to help you navigate this list so you aren’t alone.  Please give me a call at 510-725-2635 as we have a lot of experience with RECO compliance. A list of contractors can be also found on . Inspections are done through Community Energy Services Corporation, and appointments can be scheduled by phone, 510-981-9819, and on their website.  If you’re looking for local Berkeley contractors, contact us. We can get you in touch with reputable contractors in the area who are aware of RECO compliance requirements.


Arron Sweeney
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Arron Sweeney

Founder of Your Berkeley, Realtor Associate at King Realty Group
Arron lives in the Berkeley Hills with his wife, two dogs and baby daughter. Arron is the founder of Your Berkeley and a Realtor Associate with King Realty Group.
Arron Sweeney
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