In the movement toward greater energy efficiency, buildings have been identified as one of the biggest targets. Changes in the standards that designers and policymakers use as a guideline for their own applications could pave the way for buildings to increase their efficiency beyond those gains already achieved.
In November, the International Code Council (ICC) closed final voting on a new set of codes that provide a framework for local jurisdictions to fashion their own efficiency standards for buildings. The 2015 International Green Construction Code (IgCC) is an overlay code for the council’s suite of codes. It includes a number of measures pertaining to sustainability and energy efficiency designed to reduce energy consumption by buildings.
According to the New Buildings Institute (NBI), one of the participating organizations that helped write the new code, the 2015 IgCC contains four key provisions that could help improve building energy efficiency.
An outcome-based compliance provision will allow for greater flexibility and innovation in achieving greater efficiency. It is viewed as an improvement over prescriptive measures, which require specific technologies, and modeled requirements, which are expensive and ineffective.
The new green code also updates the so-called Zero Energy Performance Index to include a stable 0–100 scale to more effectively measure the progress of a building toward achieving net-zero-energy consumption.
The new code also updates the requirements for the installation of on-site renewables on buildings, such as solar photovoltaics, to keep up with changes that are taking place as a result of the rapid growth in these installations.
Finally, the 2015 IgCC responds to the growing popularity of smart thermostats and utility demand-response programs by adjusting the standards to make participation in these programs more effective.
The need for greater building energy efficiency is paramount because buildings are responsible for anywhere from 40–80 percent of carbon emissions in the United States, according to the NBI.