What are Building Energy Conservation Codes?
The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is a residential building code created by the International Code Council to establish minimum design and construction requirements for energy efficiency in buildings. Codes established by the International Code Council are the most widely adopted codes for residential structures in the United States and many other global markets. Commercial building codes are largely based on the ASHRAE 90.1 standards developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
Some states currently uses building codes that predate the rapid expansion of energy efficiency. To create a greater market for efficiency products, states could adopt the more current 2015 IECC building codes. Alternatively, states may choose to wait for the 2018 version to be released since the codes are updated every three years.
Changes in the 2015 IECC (over the 2012 version) that have a beneficial impact on residential energy include:
- Increased insulation requirements for return ducts in attics.
- New requirements for heated water circulation systems and heat trace systems that are expected to reduce heat loss from pipes and energy use by circulation pumps.
- New insulation requirements for three-quarter-inch pipes, a common size in typical residential buildings.
- New demand control requirements for specific recirculating systems that are expected to reduce energy consumption.
- New requirement for historic buildings to comply with code unless there is “compromise to the historic nature and function of the building.” Previously, historic buildings were generally exempted from the code.
- New requirement for outdoor reset control for hot water boilers that are expected to result in more efficient heating.
To support a competitive market for building energy efficiency, states could implement the most recent building codes and couple their code adoption with a strong compliance plan. The costs of implementing the additional requirements in the 2015 codes vary across building type, but research shows that each subsequent IECC has led to considerable savings over the prior codes and decreases the cost of energy.