Building & Energy Codes
On March 23rd of 2018, NCBPA submitted letters to the state’s Energy Policy Council and the Governor’s office with a variety of recommendations for increasing North Carolina’s strategic use of energy efficiency. For 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. Read more below.
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.