United States energy building codes

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The United States building codes related to energy are energy codes and standards that set minimum requirements for energy-efficient design and construction for new and renovated buildings that impact energy use and emissions for the life of the building. Buildings account for 39% of United States energy use, two-thirds of electricity, and one-eighth of water. [1] With buildings being such a main source of energy usage in the United States, along with the surrounding issues associated with high energy usage it is imperative that buildings abide by codes to ensure efficiency. Using more efficient methods and materials upfront when constructing the buildings will help to cut down on energy usage. There are building energy codes for both commercial and residential buildings.

Contents

United States building codes overview

In the USA the main codes are the International Building Code for commercial buildings and the International Residential Code (IRC) for residential buildings (low-rise, three stories or less), electrical codes and plumbing, mechanical codes. Fifty states and the District of Columbia have adopted the I-Codes at the state or jurisdictional level. [2]

New building code initiatives can sometimes be controversial and generate debate about the costs versus the benefits. In 2009, the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) was updated to include a requirement of sprinklers in all new one- and two-family residences, including townhouses, which generated a varied response by states which can choose whether to adopt the update. As of 2010, several states had declined to update their codes, with California and Pennsylvania as the two who adopted the change. [3]

Energy codes

There are 3 different kinds of building codes: private sector, federal sector, and international. The private sector codes are associated with state and local jurisdiction. States and local jurisdictions have different energy codes that they follow based on climate, geography, and many other contributing factors. The two primary baseline codes for the private sector are the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), and the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1 energy standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings (ASHRAE 90.1). [4] States and local governments adopt and enforce these energy codes. The standards are published by national organizations such as ASHRAE. The International Code Council (ICC) develops the codes and standards used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. [5] Within the ICC is the IECC which is a chapter of the IBC and IRC. The IECC is a model energy code, but it is written in mandatory, enforceable language, so that state and local jurisdictions can easily adopt the model as their energy code. [6] The IECC references several ASHRAE Standards, in particular the ASHRAE 90.1 for commercial building construction.

State-by-state adoption

When states adopt building code updates, federal laws may affect these regulations. For example, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act generally prohibits regulations stricter than the IECC, unless specific exceptions are met. [7]

In 2010, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included provisions to incentivize states to update their ASHRAE building codes. [8]

The nonprofit Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP) is aimed at improving building codes across the country, and produces diagrams showing adoptions across the country. [9]

See current and historical energy codes in the United States.

Cost savings

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) produced state by state estimates of potential savings from updating energy codes due to improved energy efficiency in 2013. [10]

Federal codes

Federal sector energy building codes are nationwide and must be followed by every state and local jurisdiction for federal buildings, meaning buildings constructed by the federal government, notably including public housing. [11] Federal commercial buildings must abide by the final rule established in 2007 based on ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004. This final rule applies to new Federal commercial and multi-family high-rise residential buildings. The final rule is based on an interim final rule with a few changes based on public comment. [12] The new changes include: [13]

With regard to public housing and FHA-insured housing, the United States Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency sets minimum energy codes. [14]

Proposals

In 2009, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, aimed at addressing climate change, was passed by the House, but ultimately failed to be voted on in the Senate. It included provisions to improve building codes, which generated some controversies and misunderstandings. [15]

Related Research Articles

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning Technology of indoor and vehicular environmental comfort

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) is the technology of indoor and vehicular environmental comfort. Its goal is to provide thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality. HVAC system design is a subdiscipline of mechanical engineering, based on the principles of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer. "Refrigeration" is sometimes added to the field's abbreviation, as HVAC&R or HVACR or "ventilation" is dropped, as in HACR.

Building code Set of rules that specify the standards for constructed objects such as buildings and nonbuilding structures

A building code is a set of rules that specify the standards for constructed objects such as buildings and nonbuilding structures. Buildings must conform to the code to obtain planning permission, usually from a local council. The main purpose of building codes is to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the construction and occupancy of buildings and structures. The building code becomes law of a particular jurisdiction when formally enacted by the appropriate governmental or private authority.

A model building code is a building code that is developed and maintained by a standards organization independent of the jurisdiction responsible for enacting the building code. A local government can choose to adopt a model building code as its own. This saves local governments the expense and trouble of developing their own codes. Many smaller governments lack the expertise to do so.

The National Building Code of Canada is the model building code of Canada. It is issued by the National Research Council of Canada. As a model code, it has no legal status until it is adopted by a jurisdiction that regulates construction.

Energy Policy Act of 1992

The Energy Policy Act, effective October 24, 1992, is a United States government act. It was passed by Congress and set goals, created mandates, and amended utility laws to increase clean energy use and improve overall energy efficiency in the United States. The Act consists of twenty-seven titles detailing various measures designed to lessen the nation's dependence on imported energy, provide incentives for clean and renewable energy, and promote energy conservation in buildings.

Manufactured housing

Manufactured housing is a type of prefabricated housing that is largely assembled in factories and then transported to sites of use. The definition of the term in the United States is regulated by federal law : "Manufactured homes are built as dwelling units of at least 320 square feet (30 m2) in size with a permanent chassis to assure the initial and continued transportability of the home." The requirement to have a wheeled chassis permanently attached differentiates "manufactured housing" from other types of prefabricated homes, such as modular homes.

The International Building Code (IBC) is a model building code developed by the International Code Council (ICC). It has been adopted for use as a base code standard by most jurisdictions in the United States. The IBC addresses both health and safety concerns for buildings based upon prescriptive and performance related requirements. The IBC is fully compatible with all other published ICC codes. The code provisions are intended to protect public health and safety while avoiding both unnecessary costs and preferential treatment of specific materials or methods of construction. However, a 2019 New York Times story revealed a secret agreement with the National Association of Home Builders that allowed the industry group, which represents the construction industry, to limit improvements in the code that would make buildings more environmentally sustainable and resistant to natural disasters, prompting a congressional investigation.

Building officials of developed countries are generally the jurisdictional administrator of building and construction codes, engineering calculation supervision, permits, facilities management, and accepted construction procedures.

Secondary suite

Secondary suites, or accessory dwelling units, ADUs, or in-law apartments, are self-contained apartments, cottages, or small residential units, that are located on a property that has a separate main, single-family home, duplex, or other residential unit. In some cases, the ADU or in-law is attached to the principal dwelling or is an entirely separate unit, located above a garage or in the backyard on the same property. In British English the term "annex" or granny annex is used instead. Reasons for wanting to add a secondary suite to a property may be to receive additional income, provide social and personal support to a family member, or obtain greater security.

Greenhouse gas emissions by the United States Climate changing gases from the North American country

The United States produced 6.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2018, the second largest in the world after greenhouse gas emissions by China and among the countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions per person. In total the USA has emitted 400 billion metric tons, more than any other country. This is over 15 tones per person and, amongst the top ten emitters, is the second highest country by greenhouse gas emissions per person after Canada. Because coal-fired power stations are gradually shutting down, in the 2010s emissions from electricity generation fell to second place behind transportation which is now the largest single source. In the year 2018, 28% of the GHG emissions of the United States were from transportation, 27% from electricity, 22% from industry, 12% from commercial and residential buildings and 10% from agriculture.

Design standards, reference standards and performance standards are familiar throughout business and industry, virtually for anything that is definable. Sustainable design, taken as reducing our impact on the earth and making things better at the same time, is in the process of becoming defined. Also, many well organized specific methodologies are used by different communities of people for a variety of purposes.

This article provides examples of green building programs in the United States. These programs span the public, private, and non-profit sectors, and all have the goal of increasing energy efficiency and the sustainability of the built environment.

Energy conservation in the United States

The United States is the second-largest single consumer of energy in the world. The U.S. Department of Energy categorizes national energy use in four broad sectors: transportation, residential, commercial, and industrial.

The International Green Construction Code (IGCC) regulates construction of new and existing commercial buildings. The release of Public Version 1.0 was announced by the International Code Council on March 11, 2010. The IGCC was established to aid in the construction of sustainable buildings in the business and residential sectors. Public Version 2.0 was released on November 19, 2010.

ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1: Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings is an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard published by ASHRAE and jointly sponsored by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) that provides minimum requirements for energy efficient designs for buildings except for low-rise residential buildings. The original standard, ASHRAE 90, was published in 1975. There have been multiple editions to it since. In 1999 the ASHRAE Board of Directors voted to place the standard on continuous maintenance, based on rapid changes in energy technology and energy prices. This allows it to be updated multiple times in a year. The standard was renamed ASHRAE 90.1 in 2001. It has since been updated in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2019 to reflect newer and more efficient technologies.

The California Green Building Standards Code is Part 11 of the California Building Standards Code and is the first statewide "green" building code in the US.

United States Lighting Energy Policy is moving towards increased efficiency in order to lower greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. Lighting efficiency improvements in the United States can be seen through different standards and acts. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 laid out changes in lighting legislation for the United States. This set up performance standards and the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs in order to require the use of more efficient fluorescent lighting. EISA 2007 is an effort to increase lighting efficiency by 25-30%. Opposition to EISA 2007 is demonstrated by the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act and the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act. The efforts to increase lighting efficiency are also demonstrated by the Energy Star program and the increase efficiency goals by 2011 and 2013.

GreenRight Certified (GreenRighting) is a certification program rewarding commercial and industrial green buildings that meet a defined set of energy efficiency standards relating to lighting equipment, lighting systems, lighting power density (LPD), and associated building code compliance.

Lighting Power Density (LPD) is a lighting power requirement defined in North America by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) Lighting subcommittee.

ASHRAE American HVAC professional association

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers is an American professional association seeking to advance heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) systems design and construction. ASHRAE has more than 57,000 members in more than 132 countries worldwide. Its members are composed of building services engineers, architects, mechanical contractors, building owners, equipment manufacturers' employees, and others concerned with the design and construction of HVAC&R systems in buildings. The society funds research projects, offers continuing education programs, and develops and publishes technical standards to improve building services engineering, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and sustainable development.

References

  1. U.S. Department of Energy, EERE. (2011). Building energy codes Retrieved from http://www.energycodes.gov/
  2. "About ICC" . Retrieved 2013-12-08.
  3. "Residential fire sprinkler battle continues: now states decide". contractormag.com. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  4. U.S. Department of Energy, EERE. (2011). Building energy codes Retrieved from http://www.energycodes.gov/
  5. International code council. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.iccsafe.org/Pages/default.aspx
  6. U.S. Department of Energy, EERE. (2011). Building energy codes Retrieved from http://www.energycodes.gov/
  7. "Green Building Law Update Service » Blog Archive » Ninth Circuit Affirms Decision Finding Washington State Building Energy Code Met Requirements for Obtaining Exemption Under Federal Law". blogs.law.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  8. "Can Washington Enforce a Federal Building Energy Code? | BDMD". www.bdmd.com. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  9. "Code Adoption Slideshow | The Building Codes Assistance Project". bcapcodes.org. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  10. Swenson, Gayle (2013-11-05). "Updating Building Energy Codes: How Much Can Your State Save?" . Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  11. "A Brief History of Public Housing". citation.allacademic.com. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  12. U.S. Department of Energy, EERE. (2011). Building energy codes Retrieved from http://www.energycodes.gov/
  13. U.S. Department of Energy, EERE. (2011). Building energy codes Retrieved from http://www.energycodes.gov/
  14. "Energy Codes for HUD-Assisted Buildings". portal.hud.gov. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  15. "American Clean Energy & Security Act Mythbuster: Home and Building Codes - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi". 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2016-09-17.