2009 IECC requirements of most immediate concern to manufacturers

Julie Ruth
February 26, 2013
| Codes & Standards
Code development tends to focus on where the codes are going, rather than where they are now. This year, the 2015 International Residential Code and 2015 International Energy Conservation Code requirements will be determined. Last year, requirements for the 2015 International Building Code were established. Enforcement of these code requirements, however, is not likely to begin until 2016 or later.  
It’s the wise manufacturer that looks down the road at where regulations are going and plans accordingly. By doing so, it can ensure it has products that meet the regulations once they are put in place, even if perhaps its competitors do not.
At the same time, in today’s struggling economy, the more immediate concern is what will be required for your products this year, and over the course of the next few years.
This month’s column, therefore, focuses on this more immediate question, particularly with regards to enforcement of the IECC for residential construction.
Consider the following:
  •  All 50 U.S. states were provided some level of funding from the U.S. Department of Energy  under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Terms for acceptance of these funds included agreement to adopt the 2009 IECC―or an equivalent―for residential construction, and achieve at least 90 percent compliance with it by 2017.
  • Although 20 states have still not adopted the 2009 IECC, or an equivalent energy code, 30 states have. In fact, in some states, the energy conservation code that has been adopted and enforced is more stringent than the 2009 IECC.
  • Of the 20 states mentioned above, nine sought and received grants through DOE’s Energy Efficiency Construction Block Program. These are also ARRA funds. The grant application required the state to include a plan for achieving 90 percent compliance with the 2009 IECC (or its equivalent) for residential construction by 2017. These nine states are Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota and Tennessee.
  • Jurisdictions in at least an additional 12 states that have already adopted the 2009 IECC, or its equivalent, also sought and received grants through DOE’s Energy Efficiency Construction Block Program. Two of these states―Illinois and Washington―have adopted the 2012 IECC. The other 10 states (Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, New Hampshire, Nevada, Texas and Virginia) are enforcing the 2009 IECC. Program implementation to achieve the 90 percent compliance level has begun in many of these states.
The net result is that 21 U.S. states have now committed to achieving 90 percent compliance with the 2009 IECC, or its equivalent, by 2017. Only 11 U.S. states have not yet adopted the 2009 IECC, an equivalent or a more stringent energy conservation code.

Demonstrating compliance

In 2010, the DOE created a new Office of Enforcement in the Office of the General Counsel, which leads the department's efforts to ensure that manufacturers deliver products that meet the energy and water conservation standards DOE supports. Many of you may already be aware of this new office’s activities with regards to the enforcement of Energy Star provisions. But, it is anticipated that this office will also be responsible for enforcement of the commitments made by the states and local jurisdictions that   accepted Energy Efficiency Construction Block Program grants. This includes those states and local jurisdictions that committed to achieving 90 percent energy conservation code compliance by 2017.
Although each state was asked to outline a plan for demonstrating 90 percent compliance, DOE has provided materials to facilitate these programs. These materials include an acceptable methodology for demonstrating compliance through sampling, which can be obtained on this website: https://www.energycodes.gov/sites/default/files/documents/MeasuringStateCompliance.pdf.
This particular methodology recommends separate sampling for four different types of building projects:
  • residential new construction
  • commercial new construction
  • residential renovations
  • commercial renovations.
States can focus on one of these types of building projects each year rather than attempt an evaluation of all four during a single year. If, during any particular year, a valid sampling of one of the four types provides a resulting compliance score of 90 percent or better, compliance for that particular type of building project is considered to have been achieved. Hence, that state could then focus on achieving the 90 percent compliance score for the other three building categories.
It can be anticipated that some of the states mentioned above will focus on achieving 90 percent compliance for commercial new construction in 2013, while others will focus on achieving 90 percent compliance for new residential construction, residential renovations or commercial renovations. Some states might choose to focus on more than one type of building project in 2013, or possibly even all four.
It is not clear if the states will make builders aware of which type of building project they are focusing on, prior to the beginning of sampling inspections. What is clear is that the DOE is pretty serious about seeing enforcement of at least the 2009 IECC take place across the country. And  it has put mechanisms in place to strongly encourage not just adoption of the 2009 IECC for residential construction, but enforcement as well.
Although the ARRA calls for the adoption of the most recent version of the IECC for residential construction and ASHRAE 90.1 for commercial construction, the National Association of Home Builders has sought, and received, confirmation that the edition of the IECC that a jurisdiction adopted under the ARRA is the edition with which it must demonstrate 90 percent compliance.
Combining this information yields the following:
       From 2013 to 2016, we can expect to see maximum U-factors and SHGCs that do not exceed the values shown in Figure 1 for vertical glazing and Figure 2 for skylights being enforced on at least some low-rise, residential projects. U-factor is to be determined in accordance with NFRC 100 and SHGC in accordance with NFRC 200. Both U-factor and SHGC are to be determined by an accredited, independent laboratory.
       The fenestration product is to be labeled and certified for these values by the product manufacturer.
       Air leakage shall not exceed 0.3 cfm for windows, sliding doors and skylights, or 0.5 cfm for swinging doors when tested in accordance with AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440 or NFRC 400 by an accredited, independent laboratory, and listed and labeled by the manufacturer in all 50 states except Wyoming, South Dakota and Maine.
       Although some tradeoff between building insulation and fenestration is permitted by the 2009 IECC, that tradeoff is limited such that the maximum SHGC in climate zones 1 to 3 is 0.50; the maximum U-factor for fenestration in climate zones 4 and 5 is 0.48  Btu/hr-sf-°F; and the maximum U-factor for fenestration in climate zones 6 to 8 is 0.40 Btu/hr-sf-°F.

Code Arena is brought to you by the America Architectural Manufacturers Association. Julie Ruth may be reached through AAMA at 847/303-5664 or via e-mail at julruth@aol.com.