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NEEA Energy Codes Update 4th Qtr 2013

Created 1/23/2014 by Ken Baker
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4th QUARTER 2013


Starting off on a personal note, by the time you read this I will have started a special assignment at the U.S. Department of Energy where I will lead their energy codes program for approximately 18 months. I will officially remain a NEEA employee during this period but will be working full-time for DOE (though I will be splitting my physical time between Washington DC and Portland).


During my absence the energy codes work at NEEA will be in extremely good hands with Ken Baker of K energy taking over my role. Ken has been involved with energy codes for more than 20 years and was a key player in getting the State of Idaho to adopt its first-ever state-wide code in 2001. He was also the founder of the Idaho Energy Codes Collaborative, a broad stakeholder group which has guided state energy code policy and implementation for over ten years and has been adopted as a national model.


So I am off to Washington DC to try something new. I will miss being part of the Northwest energy efficiency community during this time but hopeful that I can accomplish something of value in my new role and comfortable knowing that NEEA’s codes program will thrive in my absence.


--David Cohan



Staff at WSU continued to be busy with code implementation activities throughout the last quarter of 2013.  A number of jurisdiction site visits were conducted and residential training sessions continued throughout the quarter bringing the yearly total to 1271.  Classes provided were; 1) an energy code overview; 2) duct leakage; 3) air leakage testing; 4) ventilation and indoor air quality; and, 4) jurisdiction site visits. The most attended classes were those covering the code changes that went into effect on July 1, 2013. 


The energy code technical support hotline and email continue to be a valuable service for the building industry in Washington State based on feedback received from the industry.


Both HUD and ASHRAE work was steady this quarter with manufactured home rulemaking a key topic.


101 people received training on the residential energy code in Q3. No non-residential trainings were conducted. They will resume in January 2014.




Code change proposals for the 2014 Oregon Residential Specialty Code (which includes the energy code) were due to the Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD) on December 2nd. There should be an announcement soon as to when the Energy Board will meet and begin reviewing the proposals.


The Oregon Department of Energy is hiring an education and outreach specialist to support the commercial energy code. The job was posted several weeks ago and interviews are being conducted in early January. If all goes well someone should be in the position before the end of Q1. NEEA is funding a large part of the position.


There have been preliminary discussions among various stakeholder groups about revising the Oregon Reach Code. The current (and first ever) version has been available for use for almost three years but no building has ever been certified under it. There are several probable causes for this but certainly the major one is a lack of alignment between the reach code requirements and the incentives available from the Oregon Department of Energy and the Energy Trust of Oregon. Fixing this situation will be the number one priority.


73 people received training in Q4



Preparation for future residential code upgrades continued.  Idaho now has results from 24 statewide blower door tests, identifying average air leakage at 3.6 ACH@50 pascals of pressure.  (The current Idaho requirement is 7 ACH@50 and the 2012 IECC specifies 3 ACH@50.)  Boise City has been requiring blower doors on all new homes since the beginning of 2013. At Idaho Collaborative request Boise City made air leakage a field in their submittal database and began tracking air leakage partway through the fourth quarter of 2013.   Remarkably, the 28 homes currently in the database show an average air leakage of 3.6 ACH@50, the same as the statewide average.  This leakage data fed into Idaho’s fourth quarter training where residential air leakage and ventilation were the main topics. 


A residential lighting educational session was updated during the quarter and the Circuit Rider and Sharon Grant will present the information statewide during the first quarter of 2014. 


201 people received energy code training in Q4.



To support implementation of the newly-adopted 2012 IECC in Montana, anticipated to go into effect in April, NEEA has been in discussions with the Montana Building Industry Association with a focus on the mandatory residential air leakage requirement. A few cities have businesses that provide air leakage testing services but there are large areas of the state where no such business exists and the blower door equipment is not available. NEEA will fund development of a training curriculum that will be offered throughout the state to people interested in becoming certified air leakage testers. NEEA may also provide a number of blower doors that will be available to certified testers for a small fee.


2 people received training in Q4



The inclusion of a new compliance path in the 2015 International Energy Efficiency Code that allows the use of energy rating indexes (ERI), such as the Home Energy Rating System (HERS), has already stimulated a lot of interest and discussion from within the energy code and building community. Given the possibility that many jurisdictions and builders may use this new compliance path in a few years, NEEA was interested in better understanding whether its use will provide consistency in ratings and, by extension, consistency in how the future code will be enforced. To this end, NEEA sponsored an inquiry in which four raters were hired to rate one house. The ratings varied, but only significantly in one of the four ratings but the protocol used by the raters varied greatly.  The inquiry provided a good starting point for thinking about how to improve consistency in the future.   

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