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Outcome-Based Pathway Needs One More Vote to Become Code

Friday, October 17, 2014  
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Voting via cdpACCESS Is Now Open

Earlier this month, the members in attendance at the International Code Council Annual Conference Public Comment Hearings voted overwhelmingly to approve the "outcome-based pathway” proposed code change (GEW147) to the International Green Construction Code (IgCC). Submitted by the National Institute of Building Sciences, the proposed code change would implement an optional outcome-based path for buildings to achieve energy efficiency requirements instead of using the existing prescriptive or performance pathways. The proposal received approval from three quarters of the voting membership in attendance. However, it must still undergo one more vote from the ICC membership to become part of the 2015 IgCC.

Working with a diverse group of industry stakeholders, the Institute proposed the change in recognition of the fact that many jurisdictions do not have the personnel or fiscal resources to adequately ensure compliance with energy and sustainability requirements (particularly those above the baseline). By focusing on the outcome, code officials and communities can be assured that requirements are being met while not incurring additional enforcement burdens. The proposal also focuses on capturing all potential opportunities for building owners and their design teams to realize energy savings and produce actual, measured results.

The outcome-based compliance pathway sets targets for the actual energy use of a building and determines compliance through the building’s achievement of that target once in operation. Ryan Colker, Presidential Advisor at the Institute, the main proponent for the measure, presented comments during the hearing.

Now that the proposal has been approved by the ICC voting membership at the Public Comment Hearings, the full ICC voting membership, which consists of code officials and government representatives from across the United States and in other countries, have the opportunity to vote on the proposal through cdpACCESS™. This new cloud-based system for the code development process (cdp) allows all ICC governmental member voting representatives and honorary members, even those who did not attend the hearings, to cast their votes.

"The support to-date from all aspects of the industry has been fantastic. However, the outcome-based pathway still needs one more vote before it can become part of the 2015 IgCC, so our work isn’t done yet,” said Colker. "If you’re an ICC governmental member, we urge you to vote in support of this code change. If you’re not a voting member, we encourage you to reach out to your colleagues who are to let them know why you support this measure.”

Traditionally, building energy codes provide prescriptive requirements intended to realize a desired level of energy performance. However, not all opportunities to capture energy savings (including through the use of integrated systems and innovative technologies) included. Further, communities and code officials do not receive assurance that the intent of the code provisions are actually delivering the anticipated energy performance results. Unlike existing pathways to address energy use—prescriptive or modeled performance options—the outcome-based pathway allows the design team the greatest flexibility and relies on measured energy-use data that can help communities and building owners meet their energy and carbon emissions reduction goals.

The IgCC, which is updated every three years, defines the minimum regulatory requirements that need to be met to be considered green. Local governments can then adopt the IgCC for new construction and deep renovation projects in their jurisdictional area. In May, the development committee reviewing new proposals for enhancing the IgCC voted 8-5 to approve the proposal, which would add a first-ever outcome-based compliance path in a model code.

A number of industry representatives, including the National Institute of Building Sciences, New Buildings Institute (NBI), Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), Target Corporation, American Institute of Architects and the Colorado Chapter of the ICC spoke in favor of the proposal at the hearings. Additional supporters of the measure include the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), Grundfos, Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), National Insulation Association (NIA), and the Green Building Initiative (GBI).

The opportunities offered by an outcome-based process (including this proposal) also were recently discussed in a Building Operating Management magazine article, "New Energy Code Approach Could Be Industry Game-Changer.”

Learn more about the outcome-based pathway. Voting will close at 12:00 am (midnight) PT, October 31, 2014. To vote on GEW147 as modified by public comments, log in to cdpACCESS now.

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