Building Codes Council Votes To Up Efficiency By 30%

Building officials from across the nation voted to support gains in the energy efficiency of building energy codes at the Final Action Hearings for the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). As a result, the energy efficiency of America’s 2012 model energy code for new homes and commercial buildings will likely achieve the 30% boost sought by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of State Energy Officials, Congress, and the broad-based Energy Efficient Codes Coalition (EECC).

The Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), the Washington, DC-based nonprofit dedicated to improving the energy efficiency of buildings, worked with the EECC to help promote the adoption of energy efficient code proposals that are good for consumers, industry, and the nation’s energy future.

“This is a big deal!” said Cliff Majersik, executive director of IMT. “Most new buildings are built to the code — no better and no worse. These changes to the model energy code will slash pollution from power plants and furnaces while saving Americans billions of dollars in energy bills.”

Comprehensive proposals offered by the US Department of Energy, working with many other stakeholders, addressed all aspects of residential and commercial building construction. “The 30% Solution 2012” include the following improvements for commercial facilities:

  • Better sealing to reduce heating and cooling losses,
  • Improved efficiency of windows and skylights,
  • Increased insulation in ceilings, walls, and foundations, and
  • Reduced wasted energy from leaky heating and cooling ducts.

The joint DOE/New Buildings Institute/American Institute of Architects package for new commercial buildings includes continuous air barriers and daylighting controls, increases the number of climate zones where economizers are required, and a choice of three paths to increase efficiency: renewable energy, more efficient HVAC equipment, or more efficient lighting systems. It also requires the “commissioning” of new buildings, integrally linking efficient building designs with lifelong building performance by applying a systematic approach to building quality assurance that monitors, identifies, and makes corrections when energy savings aren’t living up to expectations.

“In the 10 years I’ve been attending ICC code hearings, I have never seen a larger single stride taken for energy efficiency,” said Dick Meyer, building codes program director at IMT.

From the national economic perspective, efficient buildings will demonstrably reduce US energy consumption, which will help stabilize the price of energy to businesses and manufacturers, defer the need for new power plant construction and, by reducing the demand for energy, improve national energy security.