When the 2012 International Energy Code goes into effect next year, it will be an approximate 28% improvement over the 2006 code. That jump in efficiency is unprecedented. While the late 80’s saw gains of around 10%, things hit a plateau from 1991 through 2008, a span of 17 years that saw a total of only 6% improvement in building energy efficiency, despite the fact that codes are updated every three years.
The pace picked up with the introduction of the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The new code, driven in part by energy reduction goals set by the Department of Energy, raised the efficiency of new buildings by about 13% compared to the 2006 version. The 2012 code aims at another 15%.
The 2009 code improved efficiency in part by adding specificity to what had been stated in general terms. For instance, it required that half of new lighting fixtures be hard-wired high-efficiency fixtures (LEDs or CFLs), and added specific requirement for sealing HVAC ducts as well the building envelope.
The 2012 code will raise insulation levels, set even stricter sealing requirements, raise the high-efficiency fixture requirement to 75% and disallow the use of building plenums to move air from the HVAC system, among many other new requirements.
NEW CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR 2012
When the 2012 IECC goes into effect, builders in jurisdictions that adopt it will face the following changes.
- The code now requires mandatory building tightness (blower door) testing, replacing the optional requirement for either testing or visual inspection.
- Blower door testing requirements for homes in climate zones 1-2 have been reduced from 7 air changes per hour to 5 air changes per hour.
- Permissible duct leakage to the outdoors has been tightened from 8 cfm per 100 sq. ft. of conditioned floor space to 4 cfm per 100 sq. ft.
- Building cavities can no longer be used as supply or return air ducts.
- Hot water pipes (depending on diameter) beyond a prescribed length must be insulated to a minimum of R-3. There was no previous requirement.
- Attic insulation for climate zones 2 and 3 increases from R-30 to R-38.
- The requirement for window solar Heat Gain Coefficient (reflective value) in climate zones 1-4 is more stringent. This also decreases the amount of daylight that passes through the window.
- The window U-factor (insulation value) in zones 2 through 8 is also more stringent.
- The percentage of high-efficiency light fixtures increases from 50% to 75%.
Energy Codes are driving the building industry to new heights of energy efficiency. However new requirements present new challenges for the builder. Energy Smart works closely with homebuilders addressing these type challenges and providing cost effective solutions. (Article partially excerpted from Green Building Magazine, Charles Wardell, author).
Energy Smart provides third party residential plan modeling, inspection and testing services designed to help builders construct more energy efficient homes. To find out how our services may benefit your company, please contact us today.