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Here Comes the 2012 IECC

Posted by Mike Collignon

Jan 1, 2014 1:37:00 PM

1. Michigan

Michigan has been quite the battleground between energy efficiency advocates (including state industry) and the state HBA. In a compromise reached between the two groups, the state will adopt the 2012 IECC, but will not review their code for a minimum of three years and a maximum of six years.

General Code Information:
The Bureau of Construction Codes tasked the Residential Code Review Committee with reviewing the 2012 IRC and IECC. The meetings, seven in total, ran between August 28 and December 12.
While a draft of the commercial building code was released, the energy section was not updated. The review of the commercial energy code was delayed.

Back in December 2012, when Public Act 504 passed, we felt it was a short-term victory for energy efficiency. Now, with the 2015 IECC nearly finalized, it appears it might be an all-around victory for energy efficiency. An attempt by NAHB to drop the energy code down from 2012 levels failed at the national level. At the same time, a new ERI compliance path will soon be available that should hold appeal amongst most builders. If the state decides to wait the maximum six years to update their code, that delay could prevent many Michigan builders from utilizing a very usable compliance path. Thankfully, the door is open for the state to add the new option in approximately two and a half years.

2. Massachusetts

General Code Information:
In early July, the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) approved the 2012 IECC for residential and commercial buildings. They built in a one-year transition period, where the 2009 and 2012 IECC are allowed. Starting July 1, 2014, only the 2012 IECC will be recognized by building officials across the state.

An updated Stretch Energy Code (2.0) was submitted at a September meeting of the BBRS.

Massachusetts has always been a progressive state when it comes to energy codes. Their stretch code helps the state’s building industry prepare for the next mandatory code. It’s a model that really encourages energy-efficient construction.

3. Rhode Island

General Code Information:
The Building Code Standards Committee updated the state’s building code, including the 2012 IECC with amendments. The new codes went into effect on October 1, 2013. Two notable amendments were:

  • Residential prescriptive table: 2012 IECC U-factor fenestration requirements, but 2009 IECC R-value insulation requirements.
  • Failing the required blower door test will not prevent a certificate of occupancy.side
The code is downloadable in PDF format on the state’s website: http://1.usa.gov/1921a3P.

The country’s smallest state (by land area) joins a growing number of jurisdictions that are adopting the 2012 IECC. The state’s previous energy code (for residential and commercial) was the 2009 IECC, so this is not as significant an increase as other states, especially when retroactive amendments are implemented that refer back to the 2009 IECC.

4. Nebraska

General Code Information:
The Omaha, Nebraska city council was working toward adopting a new residential energy code in September, with enforcement slated to start at the first of the year. The council was reviewing possible amendments to the 2012 IECC. The process to update the commercial energy code in Omaha will begin soon as well, though adoption isn’t expected until later in 2014. Omaha is influential to its neighboring jurisdictions.

Just to the southwest, Lincoln is utilizing a stakeholder group to help update their residential and commercial energy codes to the 2012 IECC. Amendments are expected to be proposed to the city council. Their process is expected to conclude some time in 2014.

While Nebraska does have a state energy code, the vast majority of new construction would be affected by the aforementioned jurisdictions. According to a state energy office code compliance study conducted in 2011, 72% of all homes were constructed in just three counties, all of which are in the Omaha and/or Lincoln metropolitan areas.

5. Columbia, MO

Residential Code Information:
The city council voted in mid-September to adopt the 2012 IRC, with an unamended energy chapter for residential construction. The Building Construction Codes Commission, made up mostly of building industry members, attempted to amend the energy chapter from a 2012 IECC equivalent back down to 2009 IECC levels for residential. The city’s Environment and Energy Commission submitted compromise recommendations to help find common ground between the building commission and energy efficiency advocates. The council voted 5-2 in favor of the unamended 2012 IRC. The new energy code went into effect October 1, 2013.

This is a big step forward for a city located in a state that typically leans conservative. We also find it surprising, yet refreshing, that the city council resisted the temptation to give in to political pressure and instead chose what was best for the residents of the jurisdiction. According to the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Columbia is the largest jurisdiction in the Midwest to adopt the unamended version of the 2012 IECC for residential.

In a presumed compromise, the city council voted to keep the commercial code at its existing 2009 IECC/ASHRAE 90.1-2007 level. This move may prove to be unfortunate, as larger projects—such as multi-family over three stories—although residential in nature, would continue to follow the older commercial energy code.

Rhode Island state energy code - http://1.usa.gov/1921a3P
Nebraska Energy Office Compliance Study, conducted in 2011 - http://1.usa.gov/1jnD5Z6
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