Outcome-Based Energy Codes

Our nation’s current energy codes include structural and enforcement characteristics that limit the ability to achieve significantly more energy savings in buildings without major changes. Current energy code strategies consider only a limited number of the factors that impact building energy performance.  They don’t address all those elements of building design and construction that influence performance, and they don’t address how buildings use energy once completed.

The way in which a building is occupied, operated and maintained has a major impact on annual energy use, something current codes don’t take into account. More importantly, variability of energy performance outcome once the building is completed leads to significant confusion in the market as to just what the code is delivering.

An Outcome-Based Compliance Path for the 2015 IgCC

NBI is working towards adoption of an outcome-based compliance method that would be an alternative option to prescriptive or modeled performance compliance in the 2015 IgCC. Collaborating with the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), Institute of Market Transformation (IMT) and code officials in Colorado, the proposal for the 2015 IgCC will help facilitate both innovation in design and greatly simplify the task of verifying code compliance. Read More

Benefits of an Outcome-Based Code

To better align building performance improvement over time with widely accepted policy goals and public expectations, it will be necessary to move to an outcome-based code strategy, one where the metric by which building performance is judged is the actual energy use. This approach focuses on real and measurable energy performance improvement rather than on the relationship of the buildings' energy characteristics compared to a theoretical building built to a code baseline.

By adopting an outcome-based approach to energy code regulation, operational and tenant energy use characteristics become part of the opportunity for reduced building energy use. In fact, improvements in operational practices and tenant behavior can be highly cost effective, even in the absence of specific code targets.

Steps to Getting to an Outcome-Based Energy Code

Suggested Reading

Developing Effective Codes and Standards for Net-Zero Energy Buildings, Building Design + Construction, March 2011

Outcome-Based Energy Codes on the Way to Net Zero, white paper by Sean Denniston, Mark Frankel, Dave Hewitt, New Buildings Institute

Outcome-Based Code Summary, New Buildings Institute

Re-Inventing Building Energy Codes as Technology and Market Drivers, A 2010 ACEEE Summer Study Paper examining new trends and opportunities in developing and using codes.

The Future of Energy Codes, A 2010 ACEEE Summer Study Paper looking at the limitations of current code structures and posing questions what the future of codes should look like.

Achieving Energy Performance – Going Beyond Codes and Standards, A comprehensive primer of the history the ASHRAE model codes from inception through current code developments.

Toward a Future Model Energy Code for Existing and Historic
, A 2010 ACEEE Summer Study Paper examining outcome-based codes specifically in the context of existing buildings.

Outcome-Based Energy Codes for Existing Buildings, A study on how to apply outcome-based energy codes to existing buildings and lessons learned from Seattle's pilot project.