Energy Codes: Hitting the Wall

Filed in Codes and Standards by on December 29, 2015 1 Comment

target wallAn ongoing study from the federal Department of Energy demonstrates how the law of diminishing returns also applies to energy codes.

The good news is that the Residential Energy Code Study concludes that home builders are doing an excellent job of meeting the efficiency levels of the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code in the states that have adopted it.

But as these code requirements become more stringent, the likelihood of achieving the increased performance levels of the 2012 or 2015 IECC diminishes.

In seven of eight states where participants’ finished homes were studied, energy efficiency was expected to not only meet, but exceed the requirements of the code in place.

In Maryland, the only state studied that uses the 2015 versions of the code and the only state that did not meet the expected energy savings targets, builders had slightly tighter building envelopes and slightly tighter ducts than all the other states, but nearly half the homes failed to meet the requirements for duct and building tightness of the new code.

“There were quantum leaps in both the building and duct tightness requirements that took effect in the 2012 IECC that were beyond Energy Star levels, so it’s not surprising that there are problems meeting the new requirements,” said NAHB Director of Construction Codes & Standards Craig Drumheller.

In response, many of the states that have adopted more stringent versions of the 2012-2015 IECC are amending some of the more egregious requirements to ensure homes stay both energy efficient and affordable. HBAs interested in pursuing these code changes can use the 2012 or 2015 I-Codes Adoption Kit, available only to NAHB members.

Read the study and contact Drumheller with questions.

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  1. Randy Melvin says:

    This study substantiates that the model energy code has been advancing farther and faster than the ultimately governing natural market dynamics are able to absorb them. As the study reflects, this is particularly evident and problematic in my home state of Maryland where state legislation has been interpreted to require automatic rapid compulsory adoption of each new model energy code and previously even been interpreted to limit energy neutral common sense amendments which would add important cost effective flexibility to the code. The good news in Maryland is these opportunities have been recognized and efforts are underway to address them.

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