WASHINGTON — Energy efficiency advocates celebrated at the 2013 International Code Council (ICC) Annual Conference and Public Comment Hearings where building code officials approved an updated 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

One of the most significant code updates under consideration, a proposal known as RE-188, adds a new optional compliance pathway to the 2015 IECC. It would allow builders to comply by using an energy rating index (ERI), such as the Home Energy Rating System (HERS), to meet the code’s energy-saving goals instead of having to install a number of prescriptive energy efficiency measures specified by the code. According to the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting energy efficiency, green building, and environmental protection, approximately 40 percent of new homes are already rated using the HERS system, which is utilized for compliance in other programs such as the new homes tax credit and Energy Star.

Builders will have the new compliance option via documentation of the ERI score and of meeting the mandatory code provisions prepared by a certified third-party. Under the HERS system, these third-party verifiers are certified energy efficiency experts and a random sample of their work is quality-checked; their involvement will help improve compliance by reducing the burden on code officials.

The IMT said many builders are expected to disclose the results of energy ratings to the homeowner, providing another layer of verification, and creating a better market for homes whose energy efficiency surpasses the current building code.

“With this updated building code, a broad coalition including advocates and homebuilders has overcome past suspicion to craft a solution to give builders greater flexibility to innovate and reduce costs while raising the bar for energy efficiency,” said IMT’s Cliff Majersik. “This move creates a foundation for improved code compliance and more information and options for homeowners. I’m proud of what we accomplished by coming together and thinking outside the box.”

For more information about the International Energy Conservation Code, visit www.iccsafe.org.

Publication date: 10/28/2013

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