The 2018 Building Energy Code Promises Moderate, Not Drastic, Change

Every three years, The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is updated. This update happens through a process involving code officials, builders, efficiency advocates, and other relevant stakeholders. Proposals are presented and then reviewed by this diverse constituency. Once approved, the code then falls under the jurisdiction of state and local officials to adopt and enforce. The IECC is currently in use  by more than 40 states. The finalization and publication of the 2018 IECC is expected in late 2017.

Throughout the review process, information on these proposals is shared. These proposals indicate the potential for marginal change, updates, and modifications rather than wholesale revision.

On the residential construction side of things, the Department of Energy recently reported that making the energy code 4% to 5% more stringent would save American homeowners $126 billion over the next thirty years.

As is true within our industry, more stringent code typically means changes to materials and applications and increases in cost. With that understanding, it is critical for those of us within the industry to know what future codes require so that we can forecast cost, train our workforce, update our suppliers, and maintain profitability.

Here are some of the proposed changes:

For Residential Construction:

  • Clarification will be brought to the Energy Rating Index (ERI) to ensure consistency.
  • The updated ERI will require a minimum level of efficiency for homes that utilize renewable energy.
  • A requirement for more efficient windows in most climate zones.
  • A proposal to require heated concrete slabs be insulated.
  • A new type of fan to be added to the mechanical ventilation system table.
  • Log homes/cabins will be exempt from residential thermal envelope requirements.
  • Units within multifamily buildings of less than four stories can be tested for compliance in batches rather than individually – provided the units in each batch have identical construction.

For Commercial Construction:

  • More efficient showerheads will most likely be required (maximum flow rate of 2 gallons per minute).
  • More efficient faucets.

As we near the approval and publication of the 2018 IECC, we will keep you up-to-date on any new proposals.

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