Building & Energy Codes
NCBPA leads efforts to improve the minimum requirements and optional methods to improving energy efficiency in North Carolina’s new and existing 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. In March of 2018, NCBPA submitted recommendations to the NC Energy Policy Council and Governor’s Office outlining three areas of improvement needed. Read more about this initiative below and look for additional updates through our Building & Energy Codes Committee.
Improve Energy Efficiency Minimum Requirements and Available Options in North Carolina’s Residential and Commercial Building and Energy Codes
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.
North Carolina will adopt a new 2018 building and energy code on January 1, 2019 following more than 18 months of debate and negotiations through the NC Building Code Council. Some low-level improvements to minimum energy efficiency requirements will be provided in the next code, but, as the next code is in place for a six-year period of 2019 – 2024 (a legislative change from 2014 that NCBPA opposes), it will be challenging to make significant improvements until 2024. To move North Carolina’s code forward during this 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.
Priority Areas for Residential and Commercial Energy Efficiency Code Changes
NCBPA recommends addressing a few key energy code areas first to support more detailed changes to follow. These priority areas include:
- Supporting legislation to add an Energy seat to the NC Building Code Council. The Governor can then appoint an experienced Energy professional to the position.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- Requiring the Department of Insurance to develop minimum Energy Rating Index (ERI) standards for residential energy code compliance via a study.
- Developing policies and procedures for code officials to pass homes using the new ERI option, as well as for homes that do not.
- Allowing for certified Home Energy Raters (HERS Raters) to perform energy code inspections on behalf of code officials using the International Code Council (ICC) and RESNET approved certification program.
- Performing a study of commercial energy code compliance and code official enforcement to better understand and address gaps and weaknesses across the state.
- Examining opportunities to increase minimum energy code requirements for existing residential and commercial buildings.
- 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.
- Including high performance construction techniques and performance testing in new General Contractor continuing education requirements.