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2015 INTERNATIONAL ENERGY CONSERVATION CODE (IECC)
The International Energy Conservation Code sets requirements for the “effective use of energy” in all buildings. Certain buildings that have very low energy use (such as buildings with no heating or cooling) are exempt. The code applies to new buildings and to remodels, renovations, and additions to buildings.
The IECC is typically published every three years, though there are some exceptions. In the last two decades, full editions of the IECC came out in 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, and 2015.
Though there were changes in each edition of the IECC from the previous one, the IECC can be categorized into two general eras: 2003 and before, and 2004 and after. This is because the residential portion of the IECC was heavily revised in 2004.
WHAT CONSUMERS EXPECT
Another benefit is marketability. Consumers expect a new home to be built in compliance with local building codes, but they don’t understand what “compliance with the energy code” means. However, providing consumers with an ERI score allows home buyers to better understand the efficiency of a house and compare House A to House B.
There is also an added benefit for builders that are already building to Energy Star or using HERS. The ERI option now gives those builders a way to more easily demonstrate compliance to the local building official. Overall, the ERI compliance option provides design flexibility that can lead to significant cost savings over the prescriptive path, while also allowing home buyers to understand a home’s energy efficiency.
As states look to adopt the 2015 IECC, Enteligreen’s sustainable E3D Homes already have!
The map here (above) shows the primary building envelope requirements for all residential buildings in the 2015 IECC. The climate zones were completely revised - reduced from 17 zones to 8 primary zones in 2004 - with three of the eight zones in Texas - 2, 3 and 4 - and the building envelope requirements were restructured into a different format. (Austin, TX is in Zone 2 - Charleston, SC is Zone 3)
CHANGES MUST BE ADOPTED
Changes to the 2012 code made the 2015 version the most energy-saving code yet. But, as with any building code, the 2015 IECC has to be adopted by a state or local jurisdiction before it takes effect. Roughly half of the country is currently under the 2009 IECC, but many states and cities are considering the 2015 IECC as their next energy code, rather than adopting the 2012 IECC. This will affect home builders across the country.
In terms of overall energy savings, the 2015 IECC is not significantly different than the 2012 version. It is, however, roughly 15 percent better than the 2009 IECC. This will mean a jump in energy targets is in the future for a number of states.
The 2015 IECC is more user-friendly, in order to make it easier to realize the targeted energy savings. The biggest change to affect builders is the introduction of a new Energy Rating Index (ERI) compliance path. The ERI compliance path represents an important evolutionary step toward a code based on whole-house energy consumption and not a debate over specific values of individual components.
The voluntary ERI compliance path for the 2015 IECC gave builders the option of complying with the code by meeting a target Energy Rating Index score. This is a numerical score where 100 equates to the levels prescribed in the 2006 IECC and 0 is equivalent to a net-zero-energy home - like a Net-zero Enteligreen E3D Home.
ENTELIGREEN'S E3D HOME IS AN EXAMPLE
One example of this score is RESNET’s Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating, a tool already being used to rate one-third of all new homes. In addition to meeting the ERI target for a home’s climate zone, under the ERI compliance path a builder must also meet minimum envelope requirements not less than the 2009 IECC levels.
When introduced, the ERI provision was supported by more than 20 of the country’s biggest home builders and 90 of small builders and other building industry businesses and nonprofits. This compliance path is a win for builders, as it allows them to select the most cost-effective energy efficiency measures to achieve the best performance for each home depending on its climate zone, rather than installing a series of prescriptive measures. Research conducted for the Leading Builders of America by The Home Innovation Research Laboratory found that using an ERI-based approach allows builders to achieve identical energy savings as those achieved through the prescriptive path, but at a reduced cost of $1,700 for the typical new home. The research found that the cost of complying with the prescriptive path was about $3,000, while identical levels of efficiency could be achieved under the ERI path for about $1,300 (which includes the cost of the rating). The ERI compliance option keeps construction costs lower because of the added flexibility in how compliance is achieved. Builders can consider equipment as well as the building envelope in calculating their ERI score.
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