Thursday, October 17, 2013

Energy Efficiency Wins Big in New Residential Building Codes
At the 2013 International Code Council (ICC) Annual Conference and Public Comment Hearings last week,  building code officials approved an updated regulation. The update is two-fold: it will reduce energy waste in new homes without effecting the code's energy-saving measures.

One of the most significant code updates under consideration, a proposal known as RE-188, adds a new optional compliance pathway to the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). It would allow builders to comply by using an energy rating index (ERI), such as the Home Energy Rating System known as HERS, to meet the code’s energy-saving goals instead of having to install many prescriptive energy efficiency measures specified by the code. Approximately 40 percent of new homes are already rated using the HERS system, which is utilized for compliance in other programs such as the new homes tax credit andENERGY STAR, making the timing ripe for this addition to the code as a compliance path.

"This is a cost-effective approach that will help cut utility costs for homeowners, give greater flexibility to homebuilders in complying with the code, and create a stronger market for even more efficient homes by giving home buyers an MPG-like rating to compare the homes side by side,"said Meg Waltner, Natural Resources Defense Council’s Manager for Building Energy Policy. Other groups to support the update are the Institute for Market Transformation and the Britt/Makela Group.

Through the update,  homeowners with experience reduced energy bills and greater information on their home’s efficiency. Builders will also have a new compliance option using this path: documentation of the ERI score and of meeting the mandatory code provisions prepared by a certified third-party. Under the HERS system, these third-party verifiers are certified energy efficiency experts and a random sample of their work is quality-checked; their involvement will help improve compliance by reducing the burden on code officials.

Many builders are expected to disclose the results of energy ratings to the home’s occupants, providing another layer of verification, and creating a better market for homes whose energy efficiency surpasses the current building code. And, if Congress passes the SAVE Act (which would improve the accuracy of mortgage underwriting by factoring in energy costs), these ratings would enable borrowers to more easily qualify for mortgages to buy energy-efficient homes or to refinance and improve their homes’ efficiency.

"With this updated building code, a broad coalition including advocates and homebuilders has overcome past suspicion to craft a solution to give builders greater flexibility to innovate and reduce costs while raising the bar for energy efficiency," said IMT’s Cliff Majersik.

At the ICC Hearings in Atlantic City, building code officials also defeated a proposal that would roll back efficiency levels from the current 2012 code.

This is great news for green builders. GreenEDU has training courses that prepare individuals for evaluation of energy efficiency. Our Green Building Education course, which is online any time, is beneficial not only for contractors and trades-people in the residential building and construction industry, but also for developers, real estate professionals, homeowners and for those seeking to gain a better understanding of the green building industry as it relates to residential construction. This course meets the LEED for Homes Green Rater eligibility qualification for 8 hours of education that comprehensively covers residential green building strategies.

GreenEDU also has Sustainable Building Advisor Program courses allow participants to identify and discuss the key practices of sustainable building; establish competencies in applying LEED™, Built Green™, and other relevant criteria or established guidelines to the built environment; and analyze the costs and benefits of incorporating sustainable building measures into a project.

All of our courses are designed to put you at an advantage in the growing field of energy efficiency.