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Industry Proposes Innovative Method for Implementing Green Construction Code

Tuesday, March 18, 2014  
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Representatives from across the building industry, including code officials, building owners, manufacturers, designers and energy efficiency advocates, have come together under the leadership of the National Institute of Building Sciences to develop a new approach to meeting energy efficiency requirements. This “Outcome-based Pathway,” which the group submitted as a proposed code change to the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), appears in the monograph of IgCC proposed changes that the International Code Council released this past Friday, March 15, for public review.

The Institute’s Consultative Council highlighted the “Outcome-Based Pathway” in its 2010 Moving Forward Report submitted to the President of the United States. The approach focuses specifically on the actual energy used in the building.

“The building community needs a better baseline of actual building performance against which to measure progress. More importantly, the application and use of prescriptive criteria must be eliminated in favor of stated performance goals or expected outcomes (although, after setting those goals or outcomes, prescriptive guidance to achieve them can be developed).”1

The industry group specifically focused on an outcome-based approach to address a number of challenges facing the building industry:

  • Code departments have limited resources available to enforce building codes (particularly energy codes, which are not usually seen as a life safety issue).
  • Energy use is highly measurable, yet current code pathways anticipate results from designs; they do not assess actual building performance.
  • Designers do not have the flexibility to use some of the latest technologies or practices to achieve energy efficiency requirements.
  • Not all energy-saving strategies, such as building orientation, are effectively captured in codes.
  • Energy efficiency goals increasingly rely on reductions in energy use at the systems level, but the IECC has primarily focused on a component approach.
  • A growing percentage of energy uses associated with buildings are not currently covered within the existing code framework (i.e., plug loads).

“Including an outcome-based pathway in the energy provisions will give the industry an alternative means to meet performance goals in the most cost-effective manner,” said Institute President Henry L. Green, Hon. AIA. “The U.S. Congress established the Institute to serve as an authoritative source in regards to performance criteria, standards and other technical provisions, and we are proud to be able to bring together industry leaders to introduce a means to streamline compliance with codes.”

The proposed code change will be heard by the IgCC Energy/Water Committee during the International Code Council’s Committee Action Hearings, to be held this April 27 through May 4, in Memphis, Tennessee.

“A new compliance path based on targeted energy outcomes in the IgCC would represent a transformative change in the building industry that may be as significant as the advent of energy codes more than 35 years ago,” said Ralph DiNola, Executive Director of the New Buildings Institute. “This evolution to outcome-based performance requirements recognizes that prescriptive and modeled design approaches are often not representative of the actual energy outcomes of buildings, and that current codes fail to regulate some of the most significant energy end uses in buildings today. NBI is excited to partner with NIBS in this effort.”

In addition to the Institute, a number of organizations, including the New Buildings Institute, The Institute for Market Transformation and the Colorado Chapter of the International Code Council, support the proposal.

“This proposal will better focus designers and owners on actual performance in operations while providing greater flexibility,” said Cliff Majersik, Executive Director of the Institute for Market Transformation. “Based on the measurement of actual energy use, this approach complements the efforts underway by more and more cities and states to implement building energy performance benchmarking and disclosure laws.”

View the proposal, a section-by-section summary and reasoning statement. For questions, or to provide additional organizational support for the proposal, contact Ryan Colker.

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1Moving Forward: Findings and Recommendations from the Consultative Council. National Institute of Building Sciences 2010 Annual Report to the President of the Unite States, 2010. 43-49.




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