A Scramble to Meet New Energy Codes
Sweeping federal changes are coming very soon to a commercial building energy code near you, with implications for building systems in every U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia.
Jurisdictions nationwide are now scrambling to prepare for the changes, which will affect everything from air barriers to motion detectors in a variety of new and existing buildings.
A U.S. Department of Energy final determination issued Oct. 18, 2011, gave states two years to adopt ASHRAE’s Energy Standard for Buildings Except for Low-Rise Residential Buildings (90.1-2010) or upgrade their building codes and standards to meet its requirements.
The standard covers the design and construction of commercial buildings (or non-residential buildings) defined in the context of energy codes and standards as “all buildings other than low-rise residential buildings, including multi-family high-rise residential buildings over three stories in height above grade.”
Further, the standard covers new buildings and their systems, new portions of buildings and their systems, as well as new systems and equipment upgrades to existing buildings, according to ASHRAE.
The changes will affect not only the building envelope, but also interior lighting, occupant-sensing controls and expanded modeling requirements, according to ASHRAE. They include provisions for a continuous air barrier and improved energy efficiency.
DOE’s determination makes the 2010 ASHRAE measure—rather than its 2007 predecessor—the model reference standard for state building energy codes under the federal Energy Conservation and Production Act. Many states currently use the 2007 standard; however, there are a few states and U.S. territories that have not enacted statewide building energy codes as required.
And the clock is ticking rapidly toward the final compliance deadline next month.
Meanwhile, the Energy Department has published a new rule in the Federal Register, updating the baseline federal commercial building standards to the 2010 ASHRAE standard. That rule, which applies to all federal agencies, took effect Monday (Sept. 9). It covers federal buildings where design began on or after July 9, 2014.
The new ASHRAE measure is “one of the most significant developments in industry standards,” Vincent Cammalleri of the Building Science Practice group at Simpson, Gumpertz & Heger Inc., told Durability + Design in “Integrated Design: Connecting All the Dots in Enclosure Assemblies.”
“The air-barrier requirements also include performance values for assemblies, rather than just materials, and detailing requirements,” he said.
Deadlines and Compliance Status
States, territories and the District of Columbia have until Oct. 18 to file a certification statement with the DOE that they have reviewed their respective commercial building codes and updated them to meet the standard.
A map posted on DOE’s website indicates each jurisdiction’s energy code adoption status as of August 2013.
According to the map, Washington State, Oregon, California, Mississippi, Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Washington D.C. have adopted codes equivalent to or exceeding ASHRAE 90.1-2010/2012 IECC.
|U.S. Department of Energy|
The changes in building energy codes will affect not only the building envelope, but also interior lighting, occupant-sensing controls and expanded modeling requirements, according to ASHRAE. They include provisions for a continuous air barrier and improved energy efficiency.
With the new codes will come new materials and products, as manufacturers race to capture new market share.
DOE’s Determinations, Analysis
A third-party quantitative analysis prepared in October 2011 for DOE indicated that buildings built to ASHRAE’s 2010 standard consumed about 18.2 percent less energy nationally than those built to the 2007 standard.
In addition, the DOE estimated the site energy savings at 18.5 percent. Site energy refers to the energy consumed at the building site, the DOE says.
A companion qualitative analysis of the 2007 and 2010 editions of ASHRAE Standard 90.1 evaluated the impact of each change on the energy efficiency of a building. That analysis deemed 47 changes made in the 2010 version as neutral, 19 as having a major positive impact, 37 as having a minor positive impact, and six as having a minor negative impact.
Resources for Professionals
DOE’s online Resource Center provides information and technical assistance designed to answer questions and address issues related to energy codes.
The Resource Center also includes frequently asked questions, publications, model adoption policies, compliance software and tools, and training/eLearning modules based on best practices.
Experts from DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program are also available to answer individual questions submitted through the site’s help desk.
History of 90.1
Originally developed in response to the energy crisis of the 1970s, ASHRAE’s Standard 90.1 has become the basis for building codes and the standard for building design and construction throughout the United States.
ASHRAE'sStandard 90.1 has become the basis for building codes, and the standard for building design and construction, throughout the U.S. The organization has a variety of technical manuals available at www.ashrae.org.
As buildings consume about 40 percent of the primary energy in the country, the standard “is an indispensable reference for engineers and other professionals involved in the design of buildings and building systems,” ASHRAE said. Primary energy refers to the energy required to generate and deliver energy to the site, DOE said.
ASHRAE publishes a revised version of the standard every three years. A 2013 version of Standard 90.1 is anticipated in October, said ASHRAE spokeswoman Amanda Dean.
Comment Period on Methods
As jurisdictions worked last month to finalize new codes (or file for extensions), the DOE was still putting the fine points on its part of the new order.
On Aug. 6, the agency published in the Federal Register a request for information and public comment on its methodology for assessing compliance with local, state and national building energy codes.
The deadline to submit comments was Sept. 5.