How does that saying go – forewarned is forearmed? While your local maybe years away from adopting the latest versions of the IRC & IECC knowing in advance what is coming down the pike…
Ready for this, there are other changes coming that are likely to impact you no matter what your jurisdiction does. As for how much… With that here is a quick look at some of the most notable items when it comes to the Energy Code & a few other related items. For the 2015 Building & Specialty Codes — First Look: The 2015 IRC Changes
The 2015 IECC:
In reality there are very few notable changes between the 2012 Energy Code & the 2015 version at first glance. Further digging & crunching of the numbers shows only a small percentage increase as DOE reports a whopping 1.03% of energy savings. (For Climate Zone 5 – it is only .87%) With that there are quite a few interesting changes and some reasons that many locals have decided to skip the 2012 code altogether & plan on making the leap straight to the 2015.
|Compliance and Adoption: As mentioned in what is an Energy Code per the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 states have two years (after DOE issues it’s final analysis of a code change) to adopt or sumbit their changes to DOE which shows that they are complying with or meet the latest adaptation. As of this writing DOE Issued their Preliminary Analysis on Sept 26th & is accepting comments till Oct. 27th. At that time they should have their final determination published… UPDATE: The final determination was published June 11th, 2015 making the effective date June 12th of 2017.
- Insulation levels: If you thought that insulation levels would increase in this code cycle, well you would be mistaken as they remain exactly the same. One notable change – Continuous insulation is now fully spelled out.
*** One small error on the 2009 slab depth – it should read 4′ for climate zones 6-8 not 2′ as listed. Thanks to Eric Wilson for catching that
- New Chapter: Chapter 5 was added which covers “Existing” Buildings – thus clearing up some confusion on what must be brought up to code & when (we will cover this more in detail later)
- 3 Compliance Paths: There is a new ERI Compliance Option (Energy Rating Index aka HERS) along with the Prescriptive & Performance paths. This is based on ones Climate Zone & was an item NAHB fought hard to get into the codes.
- Climate Zones 1 & 2 = HERS 52
- Climate Zone 3 = HERS 51
- Climate Zones 4 & 6 = HERS 54
- Climate Zone 5 = HERS 55
- Climate Zones 7 & 8 = HERS 53
- Duct Testing: Duct Testing is still mandatory (403.3.3), however; unless you are simply following the “prescriptive” path (403.3.4) which still requires you beating the 3% /4% leakage rate the allowable under the ERI or performance path now equals whatever the test reads (or your AHJ says). One is still required to seal the ducts & insulate them though.
- Air Sealing / Leakage: This section was tightened up more but the allowable Blower Door / Envelope Leakage Test numbers stay the same (Climate Zones 1-2 = 5 ACH while everyone else is at 3 ACH)
- Floors & Insulation: Can I get an amen finally? Under 402.2.8 one is no longer required to have the insulation in direct contact with the floor sheathing as long as their is sheathing or insulation on the underside & the rim area meets the wall level of insulation.
- 402.2.4 – Rooms Containing Fuel Burning Appliances: Unless you are using Direct vented equipment this one can come as a nasty shock as all open combustion equipment must pull its air from outside & be located outside the thermal envelope unless it is located in a completely isolated & insulated room
Big Water Heater Change:
UPDATED: Starting April 16th 2015 all water heaters produced must meet some newer stricter standards (NAECA) which is getting pretty close to the death knell for naturally vented appliances. For example gas vented appliances 55 gallons & under must now have an energy factor of .675 – (.0015 Vs) aka Volume of Storage or better (electric is .96 – .0003Vs). In short a 40 gallon gas water heater must have an EF of .615 (.75-.06) while a 50 gallon would be a .6.
Want a 75 gallon tank? Well anything above 55 gallons requires a .8012 gas (-.00078 Vs) or 2.057 (-.00113 Vs) for electric or better requiring one to essentially go with a Heat Pump or condensing style unit.
This has prompted companies like AOSmith to start notifying plumbers, builders & others that they need to start planning for it now. In essence for units 55 gallons & under they are advising builders that the new units will be 2 to 3″ inches wider & taller than what they have now so they need to account for this if they are placing them in a utility closet or room. For units 55 gallons & up they are going to require a ton more room (and equipment / ducting in some cases) which would require even more changes.
*Many thanks to David Butler for catching me up on the Vs area as I missed that on my original read through.
ENERGY STAR for appliances:
New ENERGY STAR® requirements have gone into effect for many appliances (starting September 15th of this year) with new ones coming January 1st for items like Clothes Dryers (about time Dryers are included). So for those building ENERGY STAR homes or looking for the most efficient appliances out there, you may wish to check to see what version it falls under & spec accordingly.