ABC achieves major increases in building energy efficiency
At the recent International Code Council hearings in Minneapolis, Sept. 21-22, the Advanced Building Coalition, together with other groups like the U.S. Department of Energy and the Northwest Energy Code Group, produced the single largest increase in energy efficiency in the International Energy Conservation Code and International Residential Code, according to an ABC release Oct. 2.
The most significant changes were related to duct testing (EC71 joint proposal from the Department of Energy and Craig Conner, ABC member and energy consultant, Building Quality, Richland, Wash.), high efficiency lighting (EC84 from Conner and the Northwest Energy Code Group), air sealing (EC64 from Conner), and window U-factors in the south central areas (EC18 from Conner), according to the release.
"There is a tremendous pressure to achieve 30 percent increase in the energy codes, including pending federal legislation," says Tom Culp, president, Birch Point consulting, La Crosse, Wis. "It is in the interest to the glass folks to spread the improvements across the whole building and be cost effective, or else windows will be unfairly affected."
The Energy Efficient Code Coalition’s “30% Solution” (EC14) was rejected at the Minneapolis hearings along with most of its companion proposals as technically flawed or not cost justified.
"A naive approach to getting 30 percent improvement would simply be to greatly reduce the amount of windows being used, and to require unrealistically low U-factor and SHGC [solar heat gain co-efficient]," Culp says. "However, this would not be cost justified, harm the daylighting potential of windows, and would unfairly penalize all window manufacturers. This is one reason why looking at improving the whole building in an integrated approach is important."
EC 14 was only submitted to the IECC, not the IRC was, driving these codes apart instead of them working in unison with each other, according to the release. With EC14 struck down, this opens up the door for leading building science experts, code officials, and groups like ABC to join together and adopt verifiable solutions to realize immediate and affordable energy improvements.
As part of ABC’s 30 percent Plus Vision, ABC is working toward continued improvements in energy codes next cycle, with the objective to promote an increase in building energy efficiency that also accounts for life safety and cost effectiveness concerns, according to the release. It supports a increase in the residential energy code by 2012, would help avoid federalization of the code, and properly address life safety, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility in a usable code. ABC achieved a significant increase this code cycle, and intends to continue working with others to finish the job next cycle.