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Outcome-Based Pathway to be Part of 2015 IgCC

Tuesday, November 18, 2014  
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New Approach Will Help Communities Achieve Expected Energy Performance

For the first time, a national model code includes a means of compliance focused on the demonstration of actual, verified performance post-occupancy. Following a year-long development process, the 2015 International Green Construction Code (IgCC) will include an outcome-based pathway for energy compliance. The pathway joins the existing prescriptive and performance pathways to offer an option for communities and design teams to determine compliance—not just on the results anticipated by a building’s design and construction, but on the actual, measured results from a year of operations.

In the creation of this new pathway, the code also introduces a new method for regulation of building department requirements post-occupancy—the Post Occupancy Verification Permit.

To date, code provisions focused on improving the energy efficiency of commercial buildings have focused on design-based solutions or component level improvements. While these provisions ultimately result in some level of energy savings in the aggregate, their resultant savings in actual operations is often unknown. Further, component-by-component efforts do not capture the potential savings due to synergistic effects and many of the components are reaching the cost-effective maximum level of efficiency. Industry goals to improve energy efficiency and ultimately achieve zero energy buildings are predicated on actual, measurable results—results that design-based solutions alone cannot deliver. The outcome-based provision in the 2015 IgCC focuses on overcoming the gap between design and operations (in both new construction and retrofits) and seeks to institutionalize the importance of measurable results.

An assortment of industry representatives, including the National Institute of Building Sciences (Institute), New Buildings Institute (NBI), Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), Grundfos, Target Corporation, The Green Building Initiative (GBI) and the Colorado Chapter of the ICC, worked to educate the industry, which helped to convince the IgCC committee and the ICC membership to favor the proposal.

"This new option in demonstrating compliance is an important step forward in addressing building performance throughout the building’s life cycle instead of just a snapshot in time,” said Institute President Henry L. Green, Hon. AIA. "We look forward to working with the industry to develop additional tools to support this focus.”

The new code provision is just one avenue the Institute and other building industry organizations is pursuing to advance the implementation of performance-based results across the building life-cycle. This summer, the Institute and NBI, along with other industry organizations, hosted a "Summit on Getting to Outcome-Based Performance.” The Summit brought together industry thought leaders to discuss the tools, guidance and educational resources necessary to advance the industry towards outcome-based performance. A report from the Summit and a preliminary roadmap for development of these resources is due later this year.

In addition to changes in building codes, Summit participants identified industry- and policy-driven opportunities to facilitate implementation of performance-focused results throughout a building’s life cycle. These opportunities include new contracting mechanisms, advancements in building energy modeling, increased professionalization of the building operations workforce, and implementation of benchmarking requirements. The Institute and other industry organizations will be working cooperatively to address these needs.

The Institute has a number of tools currently available to learn more about outcome-based pathways.

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