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Bill Amends Utah’s Energy Conservation Code

Posted by Mike Collignon

Jun 14, 2016 10:55:35 AM

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In March, Utah’s governor signed HB 316 into law. This bill amends the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) so it more closely resembles the 2009 IECC.

The state legislature passed the following changes.

The ERI path is allowed, but the levels range from 65 to 69.

The 2009 IECC backstop requirements were removed, which means builders can sacrifice the building envelope for better equipment.

Builders get to choose whether they follow the air barrier and insulation installation instructions or perform air leakage testing. They are not required to do both.

Prescriptive duct leakage requirements were doubled (in a bad way) from 4 cfm to 8 cfm, and only decline to 6 cfm on (or after) Jan. 1, 2021.
The bill would change the state’s code cycles to every six years, instead of the usual three.

In an April 7 press release from RESNET, Shawna Cuan, building and industrial energy efficiency program specialist of the Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development, stated: “Utah is committed to being on the forefront of building standards, and this action means more energy efficient, durable and healthy homes for Utahans.”

There were two positive provisions in the bill. Permits cannot be denied for projects using ICFs that:
a) meet certain flame spread and smoke indices; and
b) are designed and stamped by a state-licensed structural engineer.

Also, gray water systems now are allowed on single-family projects. The bill reads: “Gray water recycling systems utilized for subsurface irrigation for single-family residences shall comply with the requirements of UAC R317-401, Gray Water Systems.”

Cons: Yes, this new Utah energy code technically represents an improvement from Utah’s last code, but that’s not saying much. Though it states Utah is “on the forefront of building standards,” they must not be aware of what truly leading-edge states have for energy codes. Since a new energy code won’t be adopted until 2021, Utah’s removal of the 2009 IECC backstop requirements means representatives will be looking at updating a code that’s 15 years in the past when they update the code in five years. At that point, it’s doubtful anyone will be describing this code as “being on the forefront.”

Pros: The silver lining is the lowered hurdles to use ICFs. By using those homebuilding systems, a builder would easily comply with many of the provisions of the state’s energy code. It’s also nice to see a state being proactive about gray water systems—something more states should be doing.

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