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Florida Governor Signs New Home Energy Rating Law

Jun 16, 2014

Florida Law No Longer Cites Organizations – Instead Defines What a Building Energy Rating System Is

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law HB 7147 that reforms the state’s law governing energy ratings.

Previously Florida law recognized the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), the Commercial Energy Services Network (COMNET), the Building Performance Institute (BPI), and the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) as rating systems in the state.

The law created an issue because BPI was claiming state endorsement of their home energy rating program and was using the DOE Home Energy Score as their energy rating software program.  In addition the law limited the number of programs that could be recognized in the state.

Rather than picking winners, the new law instead defines what a building energy rating system in the state should include.  The law struck reference to BPI, COMNET, FSEC and RESNET and instead defined a building energy rating system as:

For purposes of this part: (3) “Building energy-efficiency rating system” means a whole building energy evaluation system that provides a reliable and scientifically-based analysis of a building’s energy consumption or energy features and allows a comparison to similar building types in similar climate zones where applicable. Specifically, the rating system shall use standard  calculations, formulas, and scoring methods; be applicable nationally; compare a building to a clearly defined and researched baseline or benchmark; require qualified professionals to conduct the rating or assessment; and provide a labeling and recognition program with specific criteria or levels.

Residential program benchmarks for new construction must be consistent with national building standards. Residential building program benchmarks for existing construction must be consistent with national home energy rating standards.

The building energy-efficiency rating system shall require at least one level of oversight performed by an organized and balanced group of professionals with subject matter expertise in energy efficiency, energy rating, and evaluation methods.

There is a national consensus standard for home energy ratings, ANSI-RESNET 301-14.  The ANSI home energy rating standard’s benchmark is based on the International Energy Conservation Code.  RESNET’s national home energy rating standard incorporates the American National Consensus Standard.  With this being the case the RESNET home energy rating standard complies with the new Florida law for the rating of new and existing homes.

The Home Energy Score’s benchmark is not based upon a building energy code.  This would mean that the software program would not qualify for the rating of new homes under the revised Florida law.  Neither BPI’s home energy rating program nor the Home Energy Score are based on a recognized national consensus home energy rating standard.  These programs would need to incorporate the national ANSI home energy rating standard to be recognized in Florida.

The legislation was a consensus document developed by RESNET, the Florida Home Builders Association and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).