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Builders and Efficiency Advocates Reach 2015 International Energy Conservation Code Change Agreement

Aug 21, 2013

Efficiency Rating System Proposal Would Lead to the Largest Triennial Energy Use Reduction in U.S. History

Together, the Leading Builders of America, Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have proposed a change to the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) that would result in significant energy savings, while providing more flexibility to builders. Leading Builders of America represents 20 of the nation’s largest builders accounting for 40 percent of the new single‐family homes market, NRDC is a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization representing 1.3 million members and online activists, and IMT is nonprofit advocacy organization focused on improving energy efficiency in buildings.

The proposal (RE 188-13 with modifications that were jointly sponsored) would establish a new voluntary performance compliance path for the 2015 IECC: in addition to the option of prescriptive compliance and the current performance path, builders will have the option of complying by meeting the mandatory requirements, including the water heating provisions, and then meeting the target “Energy Rating Index” (ERI) score shown below. The ERI score is defined as a numerical score where 100 is equivalent to the 2006 IECC and 0 is equivalent to a net-zero home. The current RESNET HERS (Home Energy Rating System) rating is compatible with the ERI requirements in the proposal so a builder could utilize a HERS rating to comply using the ERI path. The required HERS Index Scores are:

Climate Zones 1-3:              59

Climate Zones 4-5:              63

Climate Zone 6:                    62

Climate Zones 7-8:              60

In addition, the builder must comply with the envelope requirements of the 2009 IECC as a mandatory minimum. These include minimum insulation and window performance.

From the builder’s viewpoint, this method allows greater flexibility to deliver greater energy efficiency at a lower cost. Leading Builders of America estimated that a home that costs $3,000 extra to build for energy efficiency obtained through prescriptive methods only costs $1,300 for the same performance obtained by our proposed approach. An additional benefit for builders will be using an industry standard efficiency report to demonstrate code compliance.

From the consumer’s perspective, this proposal provides substantial reductions in utility bills—about $300 a year for a typical house compared to the 2012 IECC or $850 compared to the 2006 IECC. In addition, it makes it likely that the rating will be provided to the buyer (since there is no cost to doing so), creating stronger markets for beyond-code homes, by clearly demonstrating their lower operating costs and providing guidance to the occupant on what their utility bills should be.

From the viewpoint of compliance, a code official will now have an additional tool to verify compliance using this path: documentation of the energy rating score and of meeting the mandatory code provisions prepared by a certified third-party. The third-party verifiers will improve compliance because they are quality-checked on a random sample of their work. It can also be anticipated that they will disclose the results to the home’s occupants, providing another layer of verification.

“This agreement is an example of what can be accomplished when diverse groups work together to achieve a common goal. The result in this case will benefit literally hundreds of thousands of homeowners for decades to come,” said Steve Hilton, Chairman and CEO of Phoenix-based Meritage Homes and chair of LBA’s Energy Working Group.

“This is the first time that the nation’s foremost home builders—both large and small—have joined forces with efficiency advocacy organizations in support of stronger building energy codes,” said David Goldstein, co-director of NRDC’s Energy Program. “This shows that builders are responding to what new homebuyers want – houses that use less energy while keeping their occupants comfortable and saving them money on utility bills.”   David Goldstein posted a blog on the proposal that can be downloaded at NRDC Blog on HERS Compliance Option to the IECC

“This would be a win-win for both builders and the people who buy new homes,” said Ryan Meres, IMT’s Code Compliance Specialist. “By using this simpler, consumer-friendly rating system, a homebuyer can understand the efficiency of the house and compare House A to House B. Meanwhile, this also would give builders more flexibility in meeting market demand for more energy-efficient living.”

Duke Energy, Air Conditioning Contractors of America, Insulate America, and Masco Home Services have signed on in support of the proposal, along with almost 90 other utilities, custom home builders, energy efficiency service providers, homeowner warranty providers, and other organizations from around the country. To see the full list of supporters go to Home Energy Rating Compliance Option in IECC Supporters.

For more information go to Leading Builders of America, NRDC and IMT 2015 IECC Proposal Factsheet