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Q3 2012 Energy Codes Update

Created 10/11/2012 by David Cohan
Updated 10/11/2012 by David Cohan
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The always-exciting Washington code development and adoption process continues. On September 14th and 21st the State Building Code Council (SBCC) held public hearings to receive testimony on the package of code change proposals developed by the Technical Advisory Group and the Mechanical, Ventilation and Energy Committee. NEEA was in favor of adoption of the package as submitted. Opposition was heard mainly from the concrete and masonry industry, which objected to a substantial increase in mass wall insulation requirements (though it would only bring them equal to the national model code). Another person testified that up to three sections of the proposed commercial code violated federal pre-emption requirements for minimum equipment efficiencies. (This was the basis of the federal lawsuit brought by the homebuilders after the last code was adopted.) SBCC legal counsel will review the proposed code in this light and recommend changes to the SBCC if they find merit in this assertion. Markedly and pleasantly absent was opposition from the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), the homebuilders group which bitterly opposed the last code change. The leadership of BIAW has changed drastically since then and their attitude is much more cooperative. NEEA is already discussing ways in which we can work together with them to encourage this new relationship. Overall, objections to the package were very minimal. A final decision will be made by November 30th.


Savings for the residential code are estimated at 8%-9% if the package is adopted without changes. The savings for the commercial code have not yet been estimated. The SBCC must adopt the code by November 30 and submit it to the legislature by December 1st if it is to go into effect in 2013.


The residential compliance study finished field data collection in late September. Analysis is under way and a draft report is expected toward the end of the year. This report will be presented for comment to the original stakeholder group that was convened to provide help in planning the study.


Commercial and residential trainings were offered around the state, including the introduction of a new module on building envelope continuity. The development and first few presentations of the module were funded by BPA. NEEA will fund future presentations around the region.



A contract with the Oregon Homebuilders Association to support the residential energy code is finally in place. The first task is for OHBA to hire the person who will deliver training and technical support. The position has been posted and resumes are coming in. They hope to have someone in place within the next several weeks.


On the commercial side, our contractor has developed a training curriculum for HVAC controls which was identified as a major gap in our current offerings. The training will be offered for the first time in mid-October. Another task is to identify buildings that have the potential to meet the Oregon Reach Code but are unaware of it. Our contractor will offer analysis to determine what would be necessary to meet the Reach Code and then technical support to make the changes if the developer agrees. Getting buildings to meet the Reach Code (none have so far) will establish credibility for that code which will be important when it comes up for renewal in the future. 



Through the new negotiated rule process the Idaho Building Code Board voted to retain the current (2009 International Energy Conservation Code/IECC) energy code rather than advance to the 2012 IECC. They also voted to retain the 2009 version of the IRC.  The 2012 IBC and IEBC were voted into adoption.  The homebuilders strongly supported this decision though many of their concerns were focused on the building code rather than the energy code. We also supported this position as we believed it was politically pragmatic and did not close the door on getting the 2012 IECC adopted in the next year or two. One pre-negotiated outcome of this decision was that a working group consisting of both homebuilders and efficiency advocates was formed to study the 2012 version and make recommendations to the Board on when and how to move towards that higher level of stringency. The first meeting of this group is scheduled in late October under the auspices of the NEEA-supported Idaho Energy Codes Collaborative.


Idaho Power is analyzing the possibility of using the 2012 IECC as the basis for incentives in their commercial new construction program. While Idaho Power will not advertise the program as being based on the code, such an alignment will support its adoption as it will create a cohort of builders who will have met its requirements.


The residential compliance study finished field data collection in late September. Analysis is underway and a draft report is expected toward the end of the year. This report will be presented for comment to the original stakeholder group that was convened to provide help in planning the study.


The circuit rider has been active throughout the state. At the end of October, the Circuit Rider Oversight Board will be reviewing his activities and will start to formalize the job activities moving forward.



On September 25th, we met with the Montana Building Industries Association (the homebuilders group) to continue our negotiations for them to develop and offer, with NEEA’s support, an energy code compliance program in self-certification areas. The meeting appeared fruitful and we have sent them a draft scope of work. We still hope to have an agreement in place with them before the end of the year. Montana Department of Environmental Quality, NEEA’s contractor, held three trainings during Q3. 34 people attended.



Regional code experts convened by NEEA created over 40 code concepts for the 2015 IECC. These concepts were reviewed during two meetings (one for non-residential, one for residential) during which the experts reviewed all of the concepts and prioritized them. Those most highly rated will now be developed into complete proposals, sent to other efficiency groups around the country for review and then submitted to the International Code Council (ICC) by the January 3 deadline. Many of the concepts are based on requirements already in the Washington and Oregon codes so having them adopted nationally would both preserve the good work we have done and move the model code closer to us. The proposals will be submitted to the ICC under the name of NEEA’s Northwest Energy Codes Group.

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