Friday, December 9, 2011

IMT and GBPN Publish Three "Code Compliance Strategies"

The development of the International Energy Conservation Code has produced nearly a 30% increase in the code's energy efficiency provisions from the 2006 to the 2012 editions. However, for states and jurisdictions, simply adopting an efficient code does not mean new buildings will be energy efficient. In fact, it is widely recognized that the energy code is often ignored or inadequately enforced by local code officials who lack the resources to ensure proper enforcement. This means the energy efficiency gains made in the development of the code are lost due to a lack of compliance with its provisions.

The Institute for Market Transformation and the Global Buildings Performance Network have attacked the challenge of low energy code compliance rates head-on. Their first step in a quest to improve compliance is the development of successful strategies (best practices) for improving energy code compliance. The first three of these compliance strategies have been published and at least three more are in the pipeline to be released in early 2012. The first three studies include:


  • Third-Party Performance Testing (a case study of practices in Austin, Texas). This case study looks at the requirements in Austin, Texas for mandatory performance testing for all residential construction. Austin requires that a third-party perform a duct and envelope leakage, air flow and static pressure test on every new home.



  • Design Professional Accountability This case study examines the requirement in Wisconsin that a design professional be involved in the construction inspection process for all commercial buildings over 50,000 cubic feet and sign a statement of compliance prior to the certificate of occupancy being issued. The statement of compliance includes energy code provisions as well as other building code requirements. 



  • Third-Party Plan Review This case study examines how the use of third-party plan review can improve compliance with building energy codes as well as speed up the regulatory approval process.








Each of these compliance strategies has great potential to improve energy code compliance. The next three case studies will take a slightly more holistic approach to addressing code compliance issues. In the energy codes "world" a holistic approach to building design is always advocated as the best way to ensure an energy efficient building. Unfortunately, energy efficiency advocates have not taken a holistic approach to improving code compliance. This type of approach does not simply give "101 reasons to enforce the energy code" and expect code officials to agree and take on the added responsibilities. A holistic approach to improving energy code compliance looks at all the responsibilities of a building official to see how energy code enforcement can be effectively integrated.

Read the case studies at www.imt.org/codecompliance.

Send your comments or questions to ryan@imt.org.

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