Building Energy Codes Program

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Energy Codes Program supports increased energy efficiency in America’s residential and commercial buildings by helping to advance building energy codes. BECP coordinates with other government agencies, state and local jurisdictions, national code organizations, and industry to promote stronger building energy codes and help states adopt, implement, and enforce those codes. Established in 1991, BECP is part of DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Building Technologies family of programs.

Program Drivers: Less Energy. Less Cost. Less Carbon[edit]

Residential and commercial buildings use about 40% of energy in the United States,[1] making them significant contributors to the energy problem. Building energy codes are a critical part of the energy solution. BECP’s work to improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s buildings results in:

  • Less energy consumed by America’s buildings
  • Less cost for consumers
  • Less carbon added to the environment.

Program Areas[edit]

BECP helps the energy codes community improve building energy efficiency through activities in three major areas: Model Code Development; Code Compliance Software; as well as Code Education, Training, and Advocacy.[2]

Model Code Development[edit]

BECP’s code development staff help develop more stringent “baseline” building energy codes. A building constructed to comply with a baseline code meets a minimum level of energy efficiency. But BECP’s reach does not stop at the minimum level. By increasing the stringency of baseline codes, the stringency required by above-code programs such as LEED and ENERGY STAR is pushed higher. Two primary initiatives are shaping BECP’s code development focus – one initiative is for residential buildings and the other for commercial. Both initiatives have the same goal of 30% increased energy efficiency.

30/30 Vision—Residential[edit]

Building on the experiences of research and demonstration programs, and joining forces with similar efforts by private sector groups, DOE is pursuing an aggressive goal, to be accomplished by 2012, of increasing the stringency of America’s primary residential energy code, the International Energy Conservation Code, by 30% compared to the 2006 version of the IECC. By achieving this goal, IECC-regulated features in houses built to the 2012 code will use 30% less energy compared to those that comply with the 2006 IECC. Publication of the 2009 IECC, which is markedly more stringent than the 2006 IECC, marked the first major milestone toward the 30% target.

30/30 Vision—Commercial[edit]

The DOE has partnered with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers to improve the stringency of America’s primary commercial energy code, ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2010, by 30% relative to the 2004 edition. By achieving this goal, Standard 90.1-regulated features in commercial buildings constructed in compliance with Standard 90.1-2010 will use 30% less energy compared to those built to the 2004 edition. Publication of Standard 90.1-2007 was the first major milestone toward the 30% target.

Code Compliance Software[edit]

BECP develops and distributes free compliance software, REScheck[3] and COMcheck.[4] These software are designed to demonstrate and check compliance with the IECC and ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1, which are the basis for most state codes. To accompany the software, BECP also provides free user guides, videos, training materials, and compliance manuals. All of BECP’s software and software-related products can be downloaded for free from the BECP website, www.energycodes.gov.

Code Education, Training, and Advocacy[edit]

BECP educates and trains the energy codes community about energy code requirements, how to implement and comply with those requirements, as well as how to demonstrate and verify compliance with energy codes. All of BECP’s education and training resources are free and available through the [www.energycodes.gov BECP website], including:

  • Online training such as webcasts, self-paced training, and videos; participants can earn American Institute of Architects Continuing Education System Learning Units.
  • Annual Energy Codes in-person training event information and registration
  • Setting the Standard newsletter for information exchange among building professionals and organizations, state and local code officials, researchers, architects, designers, and engineers
  • Code Notes and additional articles to clarify common code issues
  • Code analysis and development to compare the energy efficiency of different energy codes and identify potential code changes
  • Online Events Calendar featuring buildings-related training opportunities and events submitted by members of the codes community
  • Access to Technical Support – BECP staff answer every inquiry.

BECP works closely with the Building Codes Assistance Project, which provides states with code advocacy assistance.

Program Community[edit]

Example: Working with States[edit]

Different states have different energy needs, demands, and issues. And every state is required by Federal law (Energy Conservation and Production Act, as amended) to be “up to code.” In brief, (1) if DOE determines a new version of the IECC to improve energy efficiency in residential buildings relative to its predecessor (this is referred to as a positive determination), all states must consider adopting a code that meets or exceeds the new IECC, and (2) if DOE determines a new version of ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1 to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings relative to its predecessor, all states must adopt a code that meets or exceeds the new Standard 90.1. BECP works with regional alliances and other state energy code officials to help make sure key energy code issues are addressed and remove barriers to energy code adoption, implementation, compliance, and enforcement.

Example: Working with Code Developers[edit]

BECP staff are heavily involved with ASHRAE. Standard 90.1 is published approximately every three years. BECP staff are a strong part of this process, serving on and leading ASHRAE subcommittees.

BECP participates in the process of the International Code Council. The ICC publishes a new version of the IECC every three years. BECP staff are active participants in the ICC process, working with collaborators to submit IECC code change proposals.

Example: Working with the Building Industry[edit]

BECP caters to the needs of architects, designers, and builders, supporting their efforts to implement energy codes. To this end, BECP provides free education and training on a wide variety of energy code-related topics.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review 2007, Figure 2.1a, Energy Consumption by Sector Overview, p.74.
  2. ^ Building Energy Codes Program website
  3. ^ BECP website - REScheck
  4. ^ BECP website - COMcheck

External links[edit]