This last week was probably one of the busiest conference weeks when it comes to building better buildings. Not only was the RESNET / ACCA / IAQA / RPA conference going on, many other states & groups were holding similar ones throughout the week. I know here in Alabama we had at least 2 open to the public & one for trade school teachers which I was honored to do a training session at. Needless to say the new building codes & requirements were top of the mind here.
Interestingly Tennessee appears to be close to adopting the 2012 codes, though they have decided to eliminate the testing requirements. Unfortunately as many of us do know, without the testing requirements in place, nothing really does change. While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence & surveys out there to back that up, I decided to take a look at the results we have been seeing to see how they jive. With this in mind I grabbed the last 25 tests we have completed for Vestavia Hills & Pell City (i.e. code required only – not ones tied into a “green” or Code+ program)
- Pre testing: 2009 code is 12% final – For most units I have tested in older houses, the numbers generally start around 15% and go up from there (highest was 73% while I have had 2 below code)
- 5 or 20% of tests are “finals” (12% max) while the other 20 tests are “rough in” (6% max) – testing without the air handlers in place is not allowed in Vestavia & we simply won’t do them
- Total combined leakage at the “pass” stage is 1981.15 CFM for 35,774 SF of conditioned area or 5.54% leakage
- Total combined leakage for “rough in” only is 4.4% while “final” came in at 11.1%
- Only 1 contractor required multiple days & tests to “pass”, while 2 additional ones were billed for additional time to get their units to pass (we include 30 minutes per unit to correct issues or for additional tightening)
- What Manual J? – Only 4 units had a per tonnage SF rate of 650+ which is about the minimum one would expect to see for a house built to 2009 codes (most high performance homes are coming in at 1000 SF plus per ton)
- With time, the numbers get better – while many companies just barely pass the first time or two, many drop down to the low 3’s & 4’s for future tests with the best result coming in at 17 CFM or 1.1%. Of course one item I do stress to many is don’t get fixated on the 6 or 12 numbers as the 2012 code is 4% across the board
Conference Notes & Tid-Bits:
- While I couldn’t make it this years, Allison Bailes has a few interesting notes on it here
- Retrotec will soon be shipping a wireless manometer that will be able to talk to your tablet, phone, etc… Not to be outdone Energy Conservatory will soon be offering a wifi connector that screws onto that RS port on top of theirs (for more – Allison’s article here)
- BPI is quickly losing steam & running into issues which I predicted a year ago. In order to hold onto their numbers they have already dropped their 62.2 rollout & now are trimming down their “recertification” requirements. Is it really any wonder that ACCA & others are out to get their ANSI standard organization pulled (See Allison’s notes above)
- Out of 3 days I could only make it to Tuesday’s – unfortunately all the AERC classes where basically held on Monday
- On the rumor front – the HAC board is considering making a change to the regs to help eliminate the “when do we need to test for existing units” which many code officials are still struggling with & is something needed for all those areas where there are no code officials. (See )
- If you are not certified by RESNET or BPI to perform duct testing you need to complete an approved DET Verification course. (Don’t get taken by some of those offering online versions as they don’t qualify)
- On Monday they did a class on doing the math required to become certified which had over 250 people attending. As I recall 36 people walked out before the test and less than ½ of those left passed.
- Seriously can anyone come up with a better location? Of course I got to ask what does it take to serve sweet tea? With that said, if you are in the commercial arena or interested in LED lighting and other associated sectors, this would be a good one to catch.
- This years was trimmed back some with only three classes – the first one on was really good which revolved around Occupancy sensor Design & Applications
- Alabama Saves is alive & well (It was supposedly going to close down last July) so if you are a commercial or industrial company looking at making some improvements with a 1% interest rate…
As of February 5th I had managed to contact almost every single code agency in the state & created a central location for all that information./ /
- Enforcement is still an interesting topic & it appears that the HAC board is helping to lead the way even for those jurisdictions that do not have or choose not to adopt it as mentioned above
- Out of a possible 1000+ jurisdictions in the state only 117 have Building & Inspection Departments. Only 9 counties have a building department, while 22 counties have no building departments anywhere in the county.
- Out of the 117 AHJ’s with a building department, only 37 have adopted the Energy Code portion (which was supposed to be adopted last October) with an additional 8 jumping straight to the 2012 codes. (Though most are simply using the AERC’s duct testing provision & numbers)
- A few interesting comments popped up during these phone conversations from “the state hasn’t decided yet,” I haven’t seen anything from them,” to “We don’t have to adopt the codes as the States has…”
- Some AHJ’s are worried that not adopting the codes could result in not being able to qualify for some to any grants. While I do not see that being an issue just at this moment I can see that happening within the next year or so – especially for those that quite simply said – NO WAY
- I plan on updating the spreadsheets & maps probably in late April or early May as there are 2 big classes & meetings being held for inspectors during the next two months