Codes, Standards and Certifications

NCBPA’s work on codes, standards and certifications continues to be one of our strongest areas with significant potential.  When we started back in 2014, there was little progress being made in energy code development and stakeholders felt that the North Carolina Home Builders Association (NCHBA), in particular, controlled every aspect of building and energy code.  While they remain the most considerable stakeholder to our work, NCBPA has achieved some successes that are leading to more opportunities in 2020.

Last Committee Meeting:

  • Wednesday, June 10 from 10:00 – 11:00am
  • Click below for the meeting minutes.

Update from March 3, 2020:

Residential Code Change Issue with ERI and Spray Foam:Thus far there has been NO official confirmation that the code change proposal submitted by Jeff Tiller and Robert Privott in early 2019 and approved as D item in the September 2019 meeting has been fully approved yet. In summary, though this code change proposal passed the NC Building Code Council, it’s official approval was held up due to a lack of financial justification. NCBPA will continue to monitor this situation and hopes to learn more during the March 10th NCBCC meeting. Click here and look for item D-9 for more information on this proposal.

Update from February 3, 2020:

Last week, NCBPA facilitated the delivery of the first of three workshops on mechanical requirements in NC’s 2018 energy code hosted by the NC Building Inspectors Association. This opportunity came about from our workshop series last fall and our continued energy code advocacy efforts at the NC Building Code Council.

Last Wednesday, the first workshop was taught by new members Anthony Maynor and Bill Timberlake (photo on the right) of RightTek HVAC Training, based in the Triangle area. Using an updated presentation from our fall 2019 workshops, Anthony, Bill and Ryan Miller presented to 100 code officials over two hours in Greenville.

As part of the workshop, Ryan provided handouts of new energy code summaries NCBPA created that are now publicly available on our website and ready for use by our members. Take a look at these new resources on our website:

Two more workshops will be offered through NCBIA in Abderdeen and Hickory. Click here for more information on these workshops.
And, be on the lookout for more energy code resources coming up! Let us know what feedback you have on these new ones!

NCBPA’s 2020 codes work will include:

  • Leading code development efforts to bring official state recognition to the value of non-energy benefits found in energy efficient and high performance construction, retrofits, products and services.  Doing so would improve our ability to advance North Carolina’s minimum energy code requirements while also enabling Duke Energy to expand and improve its existing energy efficiency programs, and likely add new ones, as the state recognition of the non-energy benefits would open new pathways for their cost effectiveness testing, providing more value to their energy efficiency programs.
  • Leading the development of new energy code code cost-benefit analysis required by HB675 that was signed into law on July 26, 2019.
  • Offering energy code presentations to local code jurisdictions.  Contact us to schedule a workshop!  In most cases, we have a presentation ready and do not charge any fees for our role. 

Commercial Update:

  • At the moment, our commercial efforts are targeted towards identifying full commercial building commissioning requirements for NC’s 2021 Commercial Energy Code.  Contact us to get involved in these efforts.
  • Click here to download NCBPA’s Commercial and Energy Code Presentation from our Summer 2019 Workshop Series with AIA North Carolina.

Residential Update:

  • NCBPA staff is in communications with the Architect and Engineer licensing boards regarding exemptions for HERS Rating companies using the cost performance pathway for residential energy code compliance.
  • We have begun work on the methodology and process for energy code cost-benefit analysis that we will recommend to the NCBCC at the next meeting in December. At the September meeting, members of the NCBCC appeared to pass on implementing the new legislative requirement. NCBPA is tracking developments on this changing topic as a new attorney is being appointed to work with the Council.
  • One energy code change proposal passed at the December meeting relating to the residential Energy Rating Index (ERI) compliance option and spray foam applications. The new code amendment (see item D-7 on page 28 for more info) changes the minimum building thermal envelope reference table from Table 402.1.1 or 402.1.3 of the 2012 NCECC to Table R406.2.1 or Table 406.2.2 of the 2018 NCECC and adds new language defining air permeable applications – see items P and Q on page 30 and items E and F on page 31 for details.
    • While the change was passed, there is considerable concern about whether or not the state’s Rules Review process will allow it to move forward due to a lack of financial justification submitted by the proposal’s submitters, which included NCHBA, Jeff Tiller (formerly of ASU) and Icynene. NCBPA is tracking this issue closely and will report back to our members on any progress we see or contribute to.
    • NCBPA recommends having this code language ready to review with code officials on jobs where the ERI will be used. This code change may be reversed in the near future and is unfortunately unclear at this time.
    • NCBPA is working to gain more clarity on this issue and will report back on any changes to our members.
  • One of our member companies identified a new requirement of HERS Rating companies related to the new ENERGY STAR Multifamily Program that was adopted on January 1, 2019. The program documentation briefly mentions rater requirements and now includes a new requirement that rating companies have at least one individual on staff who has completed the ENERGY STAR Multifamily New Construction (MFNC) Version 1 training by January 1, 2020. Let us know if your company needs this training and we will attempt to facilitate one!

Ongoing code proposals that we are working on or tracking include:

  • Our proposal to amend code language that clarifies the availability of REScheck and COMcheck, with an added improvement that the acceptable versions are tied to 2018 IECC.
    • This proposal was submitted successfully as an A item by Leon Meyers of BuildSense during the Q4 2019 meeting in December.  It will be a B item for the March meeting.
  • NCHBA’s amendments to tables that impact residential spray foam and ERI compliance.
  • We continue to work with member commissioning agents to define needed changes that improve prescriptive code requirements, reporting and other items related to commercial building commissioning.

Past Committee Meeting Minutes

Successes from our 2018 – 2019 Codes Work:

NCBPA garnered many notable energy code successes in 2018 – 2019.  Much of this work was funded through our fifth consecutive year of grant funding from Energy Foundation.  Unfortunately, 2019 was our last year to have this funding.  Nonetheless, our successes were strong:

  • Led efforts that resulted in the denial of NCHBA’s attempts to roll-back the just-introduced residential insulation values established for North Carolina’s 2018 Energy Conservation Code.
  • Worked closely with the Governor’s office in support of member professional Kim Humiston being appointed to the Electrical Engineer seat on the NC Building Code Council.
  • Delivered dozens of in-person workshops on NC’s new 2018 NCECC with AIA North Carolina and other partners.Developed and delivered advocacy campaigns, events, communications and other resources that educated and advanced support amongst key stakeholders on the value of more stringent energy codes while advancing support from builders and contractors.
    1. Developed and published articles from noted NC Builder (and NCBPA Vice-Chair) Pam Fasse on “North Carolina’s Energy Code is Under Short and Long-Term Attacks” and “How Stronger Energy Codes Bring Long-Term Rewards to NC.”
    2. Developed and published national article in Retrofit Magazine with energy code messaging from noted Building Scientist (and NCBPA Chair) Meghan McDermott on “The Pathway to High-Performance Buildings: The Commissioning Process.”
    3. Developed and published articles targeting builders and energy code from noted NC Builder (and NCBPA Board Member) Steve Schreiner on “Building Houses is Not Rocket Science, But…” and “Maybe It’s Time To We Improve the Way We Build.”
    4. Developed and published article combatting NCHBA and NAHB builder sentiment that homeowners are not willing to pay more for energy efficient homes. The data and messaging created for this article were subsequently used in many other campaigns, events and presentations. 
    5. Delivered a variety of social media messaging on the topic of NAHB survey data showing consumer support for paying more for energy efficient houses as opposed to NAHB’s and NCHBA’s opposition to raising energy code standards.
    6. Launched consumer education website targeting commercial building owners, operators and facility managers that provides education and advocacy messaging on improved energy codes.
    7. Developed and published two-part article titled “The New Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” with a focus on buildings (and energy code), renewable energy, battery storage and electric transportation.
    8. Participated on the Steering Committee of the NC Energy Efficiency Roadmap project, led by the Nicholas Institute, and also led the Building & Energy Codes Committee to ensure that energy code information was incorporated into meetings, discussions and the report’s recommendations.
    9. Participated in the NC Clean Energy Plan development meetings as energy codes Subject Matter Expert to ensure that energy code information was incorporated into meetings, discussions and the final Clean Energy Plan. Also promoted energy efficiency and code opportunities and key messaging through the Governor’s Executive Order #80.
    10. Participated in the Duke Energy Energy Efficiency Collaborative meetings to ensure that energy code information was properly incorporated as able.
    11. Successfully advocated for improvements to Duke Energy’s energy efficiency cost effectiveness testing and subsequently implemented a strategy with the Governor’s office to ensure that non-energy benefits are included in the new energy code cost-benefit analysis signed into law by the Governor and set to be developed by NCBCC in the winter of 2019.
    12. Promoted ACEEE’s recognition of NC’s positive developments in energy efficiency in their annual scorecard process, which include positive energy code developments.
    13. Successfully advocated for the August 2018 meeting of the NC Energy Policy Council to feature energy efficiency and also presented in the meeting on the benefits of added investment in key areas including NC’s minimum energy codes.
    14. Held monthly virtual committee meetings on energy code development, planning and issue resolution with NCBPA members and key partner organizations.
    15. Successfully led campaign to have Governor Cooper declare October 5th as “Energy Efficiency Day” in North Carolina.
    16. Used analysis and messages from our September 2018 “Energy Efficiency Potential Report” that identified a $10 Billion opportunity for energy savings through improved energy codes in many subsequent presentations, messaging campaigns and more.
    17. Held meetings with policymakers to educate them on the status of North Carolina’s energy codes focusing on the need for an Energy seat and ways to change the sentiment of how the majority of the Legislature views the lack of benefits for improved energy codes.
    18. Successfully led an advocacy campaign to counter Rep. Brody’s original building codes bill HB675 that, if passed in its original format, would have made future energy code changes nearly impossible. The changes that related to our advocacy work created new opportunities to strengthen the role of energy code through the new cost-benefit analysis that is now required.
    19. Participated in NCHBA’s quarterly Green Building Council and Code Committee meetings to advocate for improvements to minimum energy code standards. Was able to force a vote that narrowly missed (the vote was withdrawn) formal support for the Energy seat.
    20. Participated in NAHB’s Green Building Subcommittee to bring attention to NCHBA’s lack of support for energy codes and identify resources and partners that can support our work.
  • Developed curriculum and held 30 workshops (10 – 15 included in proposal) across the state to educate builders, code officials, contractors and others on meeting NC’s new 2018 Residential and Commercial Energy Code requirements while also encouraging support for improvements in the code cycle.
    1. Completed 18 commercial and residential energy code workshops in the fall 2018 summary series with AIA North Carolina that were attended by roughly 350 attendees.
    2. Completed seven day-long commercial and residential energy code workshops during summer 2019 that were attended by roughly 150 attendees with a majority representing commercial and residential architecture.
    3. Completed additional workshops with architects, builders, contractors, code officials and many others by partnering with AIBD, Optima University, Association of Energy Engineers, ASHRAE, Mecklenburg County Code Enforcement and other groups.
    4. Began developing new curriculum for commercial and residential mechanical energy code workshop at the request of NC Building Inspectors Association (NCBIA).
  • Advocated for an Energy seat on the NCBCC and tracked appointments procedures to the council. Continued support of new energy efficiency and clean energy-friendly council members.
    1. Narrowly missed successful advocacy campaign to create an Energy seat on the NCBCC. This campaign was halted by NCHBA but has a better chance for success in 2020
    2. Worked directly with the Governor’s office to identify current NCBCC members that should not be reappointed due to their lack of support for energy code, while also identifying candidates that do support energy code to replace existing ones. As of early September 2019, we are still waiting for confirmation that three or four of our candidates were appointed.
  • Continued support of new energy efficiency and clean energy-friendly council members.
    1. Actively discussed energy code issues and opportunities with NCBCC members and NCDOI staff in committee and council meetings, while also working closely with NCDOI staff.
  • Advocated for updates to NC’s new 2018 energy code during the new six-year code cycle that promote more stringent energy efficiency requirements. Led efforts with partners to advocate for these and other code changes:
    1. Through our monthly Commissioning Committee virtual meetings, have been sourcing ideas and opportunities from member professionals involving changes to commissioning requirements that will support improved energy efficiency in the next 2021 NC Commercial Energy Code.
    2. Completed many education and communications on making the new optional Energy Rating Index (ERI) pathway a requirement to achieving energy code compliance in all new home construction by 2022 or 2023. Have a funding proposal in to RESNET to support.
    3. Led the development of policies, procedures, forms and training resources for code officials to pass homes using the new ERI option, as well as for homes that do not.
    4. Successfully incorporated key energy code improvements in the NC EE Roadmap in theme 3 and several others:
      1. Recommendation 6: Raise Energy Efficiency Awareness on North Carolina Building Code Council.
      2. Recommendation 7: Establish a Pathway to Net-Zero Energy-Ready New Buildings.
      3. Recommendation 8: Improve North Carolina legislative Process for Building and Energy Codes.
  • Completed high-level assessment of opportunities to increase minimum energy code requirements for existing residential and commercial buildings.
  • Sought out code change opportunities that support existing above-code energy efficiency programs and establish new ones through utilities and other organizations.
    1. Led industry efforts to advocate for minimum energy code requirements in NCHFA’s Qualified Allocation Plan in both August of 2018 and in July – September of 2019. After the September 2019 meeting, NCHFA leadership committed to reviewing energy code requirements in the 2020 QAP draft plan that are currently below the new NC energy code. 
    2. Led advocacy efforts to push the Utilities Commission and key stakeholders to support the expansion of Duke Energy’s Residential New Construction Program, which provides builder incentives for homes that meet the state’s HERO/stretch code (15% above base).
    3. Performed commercial and residential industry professional surveys to obtain key feedback needed to combat energy code opposition and develop supportive messaging and energy code change proposals.
    4. Completed advertising and education campaigns for Duke Energy’s Commercial Energy Efficiency Design Assistance Program that provides developer incentives for buildings that exceed the state’s minimum energy code.
    5. Led research, development and messaging surrounding major energy code exemptions that NCBPA will continue to advocate against in 2019 – 2020.

Failures (thus far) from our 2018 – 2019 Codes Work:

Efforts that have proved unsuccessful leading in to 2020 include:

  • Adding an Energy seat to the NC Building Code Council.  During the 2019 legislative session, we worked hard to obtain a Republican bill sponsor that supported this topic strongly, and had other bipartisan support.  Unfortunately, NCHBA’s legislative team would not sign-off on it and we lost our bill Sponsor as a result.
  • Unsuccessfully advocated for two technical corrections to NC’s new energy code involving the Energy Rating Index that the NCBCC members did nto understand well enough to vote on. This issue does not have a major impact on energy code in NC but does point out continued the lack of education and support for energy code changes.
  • Did not perform a formal study of commercial energy code compliance and code official enforcement to better understand and address gaps and weaknesses across the state. However, through our 30 workshops we collected a wealth of information from attendees.