Building & Energy Code

NCBPA is leading efforts to improve the minimum requirements and available options for energy efficient, green and high performance construction in North Carolina’s new and existing residential and commercial building and energy codes.  Our staff regularly attends and presents at the quarterly NC Building Code Council and Energy Policy Council meetings and works with partner organizations to improve energy and performance in our codes using responsible development.  

About North Carolina’s Codes

On January 1, 2019, North Carolina adopted its 2018 Building Code for all building types.  The energy code is based on the 2015 IECC with weakening amendments, making it most similar to the 2012 IECC.  Compared to the prior 2012 North Carolina Code, the 2018 code incorporates minor energy efficiency improvements across several measures.  Because of the customization of North Carolina’s 2018 code, neither COMCheck or RESCheck are available through the Department of Energy.  One significant improvement on the residential energy code is the availability of the Energy Rating Index (ERI) as an optional pathway for residential energy code compliance.

NCBPA offers professional training for builders, contractors, code officials and others on North Carolina’s energy code.  Contact us for information on available webinars, presentations and workshops.

For more information on North Carolina’s codes, visit these websites:

Active Legislation that Harms NC’s Energy Code

In April 0f 2019, NCBPA successfully led a campaign to remove harmful language from HB675 that would have made future energy code improvements effectively impossible due to new requirements for cost-benefit analysis on energy code change proposals. After our members and supportive legislators spoke out against it, the bill sponsor Rep. Mark Brody (R-55) and other legislators amended the language.
The new language that was included in the version of the bill that passed the House on April 29th now reads (page 3 line 40): “The Council shall conduct a cost-benefit analysis for all proposed changes considered after January 1, 2018, to the North Carolina Energy Conservation Code.”
NCBPA Executive Director and Principal Lobbyist Ryan Miller met with Rep. Brody last week to discuss the bill and this past Monday presented a summary of it to the NC Building Code Council’s Energy Committee. As written, the legislation would require the NCBCC to develop the methodology and then execute the new analysis on all energy code proposals going forward, and those proposed since January 1 of 2018, whether they were approved or not.
NCBPA has determined that a wealth of time, money and resources will be needed to support the NCBCC’s mandate to perform this analysis, which, if passed, may become effective later this year. Additionally, without an Energy professional on the NCBCC, the task will be even more challenging and will tax the resources of Department of Insurance staff that support the Council.
Action Underway:
  • NCBPA will be tracking this bill closely over the coming months and welcomes your comments for or against it.
  • Join NCBPA and contribute to our policy budget to support our efforts to minimize any negative impacts from this legislation.
  • NCBPA is actively lobbying for the addition of an Energy seat on the NCBCC in 2020 and will be ramping up energy efficiency and renewable energy education campaigns for the NCBCC and stakeholders in the coming months.
  • Join NCBPA to play an active role in supporting our work.

Industry Leadership Needed

Industry leadership from NCBPA, member companies and partners is needed to increase the prioritization, profile, importance and credibility of increased stringency in minimum energy efficiency requirements, and available above-code options, for North Carolina’s new and existing building and energy code. Several solutions are available for doing so.

Efforts are also needed to steer key stakeholders including NC Building Code Council members, legislators and stakeholder organizations – most notably the NC Home Builders Association – to a position of support for improved affordability resulting from increased stringency for minimum energy codes.  The new construction home building industry’s staunch position on affordability is a significant barrier to progress that is founded primarily in politics and lacks supporting data.

To move North Carolina’s code forward during this current cycle, NCBPA proposes implementing a variety of small changes that will yield benefits to builders and developers, contractors, utilities and North Carolina citizens and businesses.  To do so, NCBPA recommends that the state government support improving energy efficiency minimum requirements and available options in North Carolina’s residential and commercial building and energy codes.  State-level support is needed to align the Energy Efficiency First resolution’s goals and practices with the state’s current building and energy code process, led by the NC Building Code Council, whose positions are appointed by the Governor.

NCBPA’s Code Development Activities

NCBPA’s work with its member companies has led to positive developments of North Carolina’s energy codes over the past several years.  Our beneficial work includes:

  1. Advocating for the addition of the Energy Rating Index (ERI) as an option in North Carolina’s 2018 residential energy code, and also developing and implementing the policies and procedures that go with this new option.
  2. Leading efforts to prevent a rollback of residential insulation values after they were established in June of 2018.
  3. Developing a curricula and training program for code officials, builders and contractors on the new code.  In the fall of 2018, NCBPA delivered 20 residential and commercial workshops across the state.
  4. In March of 2018, NCBPA submitted recommendations to the NC Energy Policy Council and Governor’s Office outlining three areas of improvement needed.

2019 Code Development Priorities

NCBPA Members, Board Members and Staff have developed these priorities for 2019:

  1. Improve the composition of the NCBCC to include more experience in energy efficiency.  A direct step already underway is efforts to add an Energy seat to the NCBCC, which would be intended to represent energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy storage and electric vehicle sectors.
  2. Require that all residential single and multifamily homes receive an Energy Rating Index (similar to a Home Energy Rating Index/HERS Score) by 2022 or 2024 at the latest.
  3. Improve the stringency and oversight regarding the rules and regulations that allow the North Carolina Legislature to make building and energy code changes without rigorous analysis on energy, health and life safety impacts being performed by the North Carolina Building Code Council and/or the North Carolina Department of Insurance.
  4. Decrease the duration of the state building code cycle from the current six years back to the prior three-year cycle.

Additional Code Development Opportunities

  1. Expanding commercial building commissioning requirements from mechanical, electrical and plumbing only to include building envelope and enclosure commissioning verified by authorized third-party testing agencies.
  2. Establishing state-supported resources that effectively address the housing industry’s concerns of decreased housing affordability through more stringent residential energy codes that support ongoing energy savings and health benefits for consumers.
  3. Targeting 2024 as a significant step forward for minimum residential and commercial building and energy codes that may include homes and buildings that are “plug-in ready” for solar PV, storage and other energy efficiency measures.
  4. Establish a long-term focus on auto-adopting IECC requirements.
  5. Introduce improved allowances/capabilities for local jurisdictions to require or incentivize above-code standards through local ordinances, guidelines or programs.
  6. Improve the professional education and continuing education requirements of energy efficiency-related trades and code officials.

Needed Market and Regulatory Changes Related to Energy Code

To increase the effectiveness of these and other code changes in the state, NCBPA recommends the following market and regulatory changes related to energy code:

  1. Performing a study of commercial energy code compliance and code official enforcement to better understand and address gaps and weaknesses across the state.
  2. Examining opportunities to increase minimum energy code requirements for existing residential and commercial buildings.
  3. Supporting proper training and implementation of the new code via educational workshops to builders, contractors, code officials and others involved in residential and commercial construction.
  4. Including high performance construction techniques and performance testing in new General Contractor continuing education requirements.

Additional Code Resources

Articles and References: