ICC, ASHRAE agree to unify green building codes

A memorandum of understanding and a business contract have been signed by the Board of Directors of the International Code Council and the ASHRAE Board of Directors concerning the development of a joint green code. This means that the ICC’s International Green Construction Code and ASRHAE’s Standard 189.1 High Performance Green Standard will become a single joint document. Technical provisions will need to go through the ASHRAE processing of proposals. ICC will be in charge only of the administrative provisions. The ICC also will be the primary agency to oversee the editorial review of the final joint venture document prior to its publication.  Both organizations have already begun work on the unified code. ICC and ASHRAE are targeting 2018 for the publication of the joint document.

Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings Updated.

The updated ASHRAE 90.1-2013 Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings includes big revisions to envelope, lighting and mechanical appliance requirements.  The changes make the 2013 update 40% to 50% more stringent than the 2004 version, according to ASHRAE. The standard incorporates 110 addenda that reflect changes to the 2010 energy standard.  Changes to window performance, efficiencies in HVAC equipment, interior lighting performance levels and envelope thermal performance.  Only eight states use the 2010 version of 90.1 and 34 states use the 2007 version. ASHRAE expects to see even more updates in the 2016 version.

The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)

The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) setting body recently passed a new compliance pathway for the 2015 IECC energy code standard. Instead of having to install one-off prescriptive measures in accordance with protocols to reach the 2015 code, the IECC update now allows homes to pass the new standard based on energy rating indices, such as the Home Energy Rating System, that compare home performance to other like buildings. This shift will streamline the compliance process by enabling builders to rate a home performance holistically to achieve compliance rather than have individual energy measures scrutinized.

New ASHRAE proposal for building codes

ASHRAE, the US authority on energy building codes, created a proposal for building codes to include new standards that would improve the water efficiency in homes and businesses. If approved, new construction of homes and businesses would need to include water conservation easements targeting things like faucets, showers, and toilets to minimize water and energy consumption.

Proposed updates to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)

New proposed updates from the International Code Council to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) would increase energy efficiency in new homes and commercial buildings by about 15%. Implementation of a new code probably wouldn’t begin before late 2013. Some proposed changes include requiring that home builders mark the R-value of insulation (by posting hang tags every few feet in the attic), that 75% of the lighting in a home be high efficiency and that high efficiency windows be used.

The Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP) presented at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP) presented at the National Conference of State Legislatures last month to educate state policymakers from across the country on the importance of energy codes in achieving maximum energy efficiency from residential and commercial buildings. Specifically, BCAP discussed its study on the cost-effectiveness of 2012 IECC codes and talked about code compliance case studies and steps policymakers can take to support and advance building codes.

California Energy Commission Vote

The California Energy Commission voted unanimously to adopt more stringent efficiency standards for residential and commercial buildings, set to be implemented starting January 1, 2014. Building off of existing 2013 California Building Energy Efficiency Standards, the new codes promise to save Californians 25-30% in energy savings and offset the need to build 6 power plants. The new codes even mandate that new commercial building include solar-ready roofs that can adjust to the sun’s exposure.

California Energy Commission voted to tighten regulations

The California Energy Commission voted 4 to 0 to tighten regulations that govern lighting controls, hot-water pipes, windows, insulation and other systems in new buildings and building additions.  The rules, which kick in Jan. 1, 2014, would reduce wasted energy in heating, cooling and lighting 25% over current standards for new homes and about 30% for commercial structures. Over the next 30 years, the new standards would save energy equal to the output of six modern natural-gas-fired power plants, saving enough electricity to run 1.7 million homes or 40 million iPads, commission staff reported. The new regulations require that home builders put insulation on hot-water pipes, make rooftops more ready for eventual solar power systems and hire independent inspectors to verify correct air conditioner installation. They also recommend the use of, and set efficiency levels for, whole house fans, upgraded windows and improved wall insulation.  Proposed changes for commercial buildings include solar-ready roofs, automatic controls that adjust lighting levels to sunlight, better refrigeration equipment, reflective roofing and heat-filtering windows.

Tighter energy efficiency rules would affect all new construction and additions and major retrofits to existing structures. The upgrades by law must be cost-efficient, and the Energy Commission estimated that the new standards would add $2,290 to the cost of a 2,200-square-foot home but would yield $6,200 in energy-related savings over 30 years.

International Green Construction Code (IgCC)

A primer to the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) is now available from AIA.  The IgCC, which was released in March, lays out a new model for conserving energy in both commercial and residential buildings through sustainable building design and construction.  It is a very complicated code and includes options and exceptions available to jurisdictions that adopt the code. The primer helps to explain the complexities.