WASHINGTON — Building code officials approved an updated code to reduce energy waste in new homes while overcoming attempts to roll back the current code’s energy-saving measures at the 2013 International Code Council (ICC) Annual Conference and Public Comment Hearings.

One of the most significant code updates under consideration, a proposal known as RE-188, adds a new optional compliance pathway to the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). It would allow builders to comply by using an energy rating index (ERI), such as the Home Energy Rating System known as HERS, to meet the code’s energy-saving goals instead of having to install many prescriptive energy-efficiency measures specified by the code. 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, making the timing ripe for this addition to the code as a compliance path.

The update was supported by a number of groups, including the Institute for Market Transformation, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Britt/Makela Group.

“This is a huge win-win for new homeowners, builders, and for energy efficiency — our cheapest, cleanest resource,” said Meg Waltner, Natural Resources Defense Council’s manager for building energy policy. “This is a cost-effective approach that will help cut utility costs for homeowners, give greater flexibility to homebuilders in complying with the code, and create a stronger market for even more efficient homes by giving home buyers an MPG-like rating to compare homes side by side.”

At the ICC Hearings in Atlantic City, N.J., building code officials also defeated a proposal that would roll back efficiency levels from the current 2012 code.

“Maintaining the highest standards for energy codes is vital to keeping homes safe and energy efficient, and our environment protected from harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ryan Meres, senior code compliance specialist for the Institute for Market Transformation.

Publication date: 12/23/2013 

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