1. WEST VIRGINIA
Commercial Codes: Shortly after the beginning of the year, the Green Buildings Act was introduced in the state legislature. It called for all state-funded construction commencing after July 1 to comply with ASHRAE 90.1-2007 and whatever IECC version the State Fire Commission chooses to use. The State Fire Marshal proposed a regulatory rule that would also update the code for one- and two-family dwellings to the 2012 IBC and 2012 IRC (with minor amendments). By March 10th, the Act had passed both chambers. Three weeks later, Governor Tomblin signed the Act into law.
Observation(s): This state is due for an upgrade to their energy code. The Act requires the equivalent of the 2009 IECC, but only for state-funded buildings. We hope that as the construction industry in West Virginia adjusts to comply with this new law, they will become comfortable building to a higher standard. It should also give the state the confidence to raise the energy code for all residential and commercial buildings.
2. INDIANA (Update)
General Code Information: As discussed in 2011’s Q3 report, the state had been operating under the 1992 energy code. Early in Q2 of 2012, the state’s upgraded residential energy code (2009 IECC) went into effect. The rest of the state’s residential code, however, was not updated. The commercial code was updated to the 2006 IECC approximately 2 years ago.
Observation(s): As previously stated, this was long overdue. What is discouraging is that the rest of the residential code was not updated, so there are still a number of not-so-modern (i.e., unsustainable) building practices that are allowed under Indiana law.
History: For over 7 months, commercial buildings in Ohio have been governed by the 2009 IBC, 2009 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2007. Residential Codes: The Ohio Board of Building Standards (BBS) held a public hearing in late April on proposed plans to adopt the 2009 IECC, while also offering an alternative compliance path created by the Ohio Home Builders Association. Some believe the home builders’ alternative path will perform equally to the 2009 IECC, but at a lower cost. In addition, the proposal calls for the Residential Code of Ohio (RCO) to be replaced with a new code based on the 2009 IRC.
In late May, the BBS updated the RCO to the 2009 IECC, but it also allows two state-developed alternative paths of compliance. The new code will apply to new and renovated homes starting in January 2013.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, the new code will: Raise the minimum insulation for exterior walls from R-13 to R-20, or R-13 plus a layer of insulating sheathing; Raise the minimum R-value of basement walls from R-5 to R-10; Require that carbon-monoxide detectors be installed outside each bedroom in a home that uses gas or propane or includes an attached garage; Require that at least 75% of light bulbs in new homes be high-efficiency, such as compact fluorescent bulbs; Mandate that homes meet an air-tightness standard that includes a blower-door test; Require that floor joists between the basement and first floor that are less than 10 inches deep include a gypsum or wood layer underneath for additional fire protection; Increase the efficiency of windows by reducing the maximum U-value from .40 to .35; Remove the requirement that sump pumps and garage door openers be plugged into GFCI outlets after homeowners complained that sump pumps and garage openers were kicking off.
Observation(s): We commend all the stakeholders in Ohio for reaching an agreement that will allow many homeowners to save substantial money on their utility bills. Builders now have three compliance paths to achieve greater energy savings. Finally, some of the new requirements are not only simple; they are logical and inexpensive.
History: In early March, the state Senate passed a bill (SB2887) that would have adopted the 2009 IECC commercial energy code. The target effective date would then be July 1, 2012. Local jurisdictions would adopt rules and regulations to administer and enforce the new code and charge inspection fees. Commercial Codes: In early April, the House passed an amended version, and the bill then went to a conference committee. However, it never got out of that committee, and hence will not be passed during this legislative year. In response to that failure, the Senate passed another bill requiring the Building Code Council to issue a report to every member of the legislature on its recommendation to update to one of the past three versions of both the IECC and ASHRAE 90.1. Those reports would have to be presented by the end of the 2012 calendar year.
Observation(s): The committee’s failure to act is a very disappointing outcome. Mississippi hasn’t updated their energy code in a generation. It seemed as though everything was on track for their commercial code to enter the 21st century. Instead, they are still operating the same as they were in 1980. The good news is there appears to be momentum to overcome whatever obstacles are present at the committee level, and bring some much needed modernization to the state.
5. ILLINOIS (Update)
Residential Codes: The Illinois Energy Code Advisory Council held a 45-day public comment period on the potential adoption of the 2012 IECC. When that time period concluded on June 15th, there was a public hearing in front of the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Review (JCAR). “The Energy Efficient Building Act”, SB3724, has cleared the hurdles of moving through both the House and the Senate. On June 22, it was sent to the governor for his signature. The bill that emerged retains a regular adoption cycle that is tied to the publication date of the most current code. Essentially, the wording indicates that the board shall review and adopt the latest published edition of the code within one year after its publication. The original attempt by the state HBA was to have the commercial code updated every three years and the residential code every six years. That was defeated. Based on the approved adoption cycle, the 2012 IECC will take effect on January 1, 2013.
Observation(s): This faced major resistance from the state home builders association. and there was a broad range of cost increase figures thrown around by both sides. This is the topic of our state spotlight, found later in this report.
Legislative News: Vermont’s Governor, Peter Shumlin, recently signed a sweeping bill that will give a boost to the recycling and composting efforts of Vermonters. This law was passed partly because the legislature failed to agree on legislation to “create a comprehensive extended producer responsibility framework”. While Vermont recycles at a rate of 36%, some estimates see that number increasing to as high as 68%. According to a report from Resource Recycling, “the new law will phase in mandatory recycling and composting, prohibiting the disposal of recyclable or compostable materials in landfill. It also eventually requires waste haulers to collect leaf and yard waste, as well as food scraps. The requirements begin with the largest processors of produce, and will steadily be applied to anyone who generates food waste.”
Observation(s): The state needed to do something, as they were seeing their available landfill capacity diminish. As time goes on, other states—and large cities—will need to address this issue. Obviously, smaller states and highly developed areas will be affected before larger ones, but this action offers a progressive and sustainable solution for similar dilemmas.
History: Currently, the state uses the 2006 IECC, with state-specific amendments.
General Code Information: The state Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means is considering a bill that would require the state building code to utilize provisions from the IgCC (International Green Construction Code).
Observation(s): Hawaii understands how important the environment is to both tourism and their way of life, and has been very proactive in keeping their codes current and embracing renewable energy sources like solar and wind.
8. KANSAS CITY, Missouri
General Code Information: In late May, the city council and mayor adopted numerous 2012 I-codes. Among the group is an amended version of the 2012 IECC, which places it between the 2009 and 2012 editions. While the new code is effective as of June 3, 2012, mandatory compliance will not begin until October 1, 2012. The new code places approximately 1/3 of the Kansas City metro area under an improved, consistent energy code. (Missouri does not adopt codes on a statewide basis, and a significant portion of Kansas City is located in Kansas.)
Residential code improvements: Basement wall insulation is required (Finished basements were exempt); All ducts must be in conditioned space or tested; Air infiltration requirement at 5 ACH50; A testing protocol will be developed; Window requirements improved to U-0.35 and SHGC of 0.4 (Previously, U-factor was at 0.40 and there was no SHGC requirement.); Ceiling insulation increased from R-38 to R-49; Hot water pipe insulation increased to R-3; Duct insulation improved to 2012 IECC levels.
Residential requirements that were not improved from the current code: Lighting requirement is not included; Above-grade wall insulation is not changed; Cavities can still be used as duct returns; Insulation for slab-on-grade floors is not included.
Observation(s): Overall, this is a positive decision by the city, although we would have liked them to address some of the more impactful facets of energy efficiency, such as wall insulation and lighting. Requiring at least 50% of the bulbs in new homes to be high-efficiency would be a no-brainer. The incremental increase in hot water pipe insulation is a token gesture, and the gains from it are minimal. Raising the required levels to R-4 would at least have qualified the homes for some green home building programs.
9. GAINESVILLE, FLorida
Market Information: The Gainesville multiple listing service (MLS) has added a home’s Home Energy Ratings System (HERS) index score to its report. It is clearly visible amongst traditional characteristics, such as year built, subdivision, lot dimensions, etc.
Observation(s): While this is not the first time green features have been added to an MLS, it is another example of a local realtor association leading by example. going against the grain of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). In our opinion, it’s just a matter of time before some type of energy rating score becomes common for both new and used homes: It could be a green/energy efficiency label or a HERS score. That accolade will become a key factor among potential buyers, and homes without it will face a distinct disadvantage in the marketplace.
10. CALIFORNIA (Update)
History: The California Energy Commission (CEC) is updating the state building energy code, also known as Title 24. The update is called the “2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards,” or BEES. Due to a compromise with the California Building Industry Association (BIA; the state’s HBA), the original update was revised downward slightly. The new energy code is now proposed to be roughly 10% above the 2012 IECC and 25% over the previous 2008 BEES.
General Energy Code Information: At the full adoption hearing on May 31, the CEC unanimously passed (4-0) the update to Title 24 and the 2013 BEES. Training & acclimation will occur in 2013, with the standards becoming effective on January 1, 2014.
Observation(s): This still keeps the state on track to meet its goal of achieving code-mandated zero net energy (ZNE) buildings for residential construction in 2020 and commercial construction in 2030. The topic of cost will remain a part of this discussion for quite some time, as it should. Therefore, we expect to see more compromise the next time Title 24 is due for an update, which will be sometime in 2017.