U.S. BUILDING OFFICIALS APPROVE NEW ENERGY EFFICIENCY CODES
One of the most impressive gains for building energy efficiency came on November 1, 2010 when building officials from across the United States agreed to support advancements in building energy codes framed by the Final Action Hearings for the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code.
In effect, the support means that the 2012 model energy code for new homes and commercial buildings will likely meet the 30-percent improvement eagerly anticipated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Equal support, from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), the U.S. Congress, and the Energy Efficient Codes Coalition (EECC; creator of the “Thirty Percent Solution”), was obtained by the unflagging work of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Market Transformation, or IMT, a non-profit, which worked with the EECC to insure the adoption of the codes.
The IMT, which works to correct financial roadblocks to investments in energy efficiency and sustainability in the construction sector, is working under contract with the United Nations Development Programme to promote building efficiency in such far flung locations as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic.
By attacking the energy efficiency product paradigm from a market transformation standpoint, IMT aims to make such products the standard for consumer demand, thus advancing their uptake globally – an approach that has so far proved successful and highly synergistic both globally and in the U.S.
These improved energy efficiency building codes will insure that new homes are:
- More effectively sealed to maximize heating and cooling dollars, and reduce wasted energy from ductwork.
- Fitted with more efficient windows and skylights.
- More effectively insulated, with higher insulation values in ceilings, walls and foundations.
- Better at distributing hot water without wasting heat (and water) via piping.
- More efficiently lit.
Gains for commercial buildings are expected to match those for residential structures, with the DOE, New Buildings Institute and the American Institute of Architects collaborating to create a new commercial building package that includes continuous air barriers, daylighting controls, more climate zones per building and a choice of three options to increase building efficiency:
- Renewable energy
- More efficient HVAC equipment
- More efficient lighting systems
The various groups also voted to remove the Energy Chapter of the International Residential Code, replacing it with the IECC, to eliminate any confusion or contradictions.
The good news for home buyers is a report by the DOE (via the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, or NREL) that shows these 30-percent improvements in energy efficiency will save about US$511 per year in energy costs.
“The votes cast last week were truly historic, said Cliff Majersik, Executive Director of IMT. “Never in the history of the IECC have such enormous gains in energy efficiency been made in such a short time. We are setting a new bar for eliminating wasted energy and wasted energy dollars when buildings are constructed and renovated. With billions of square feet of homes and commercial space constructed or renovated each year, the 2012 IECC will have a dramatic positive impact on our energy future.”