After a lengthy stakeholder process, including recent public comment hearings in Las Vegas, registered voting members of the International Code Council (ICC) are now invited to weigh in on the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) proposals. Updated every three years, the IECC is the most widely adopted energy code used by states and local governments in the United States. Online voting began Tuesday, Nov. 19 and ends Friday, Dec. 6.
By taking the time to vote, registered voting members (known as Governmental Member Voting Representative) have the potential to impact how new buildings will perform for decades to come.
If you are new to the voting process, consider taking the time to review these IECC Voting Tips. If you want a high-level overview of the top proposals, check out the 2021 IECC Voters Guide, created by New Buildings Institute (NBI) in partnership with the Energy Efficient Code Coalition (EECC). The guide highlights the most important energy efficiency and climate proposals in the 2021 IECC update. Combined, they have the greatest potential to reduce energy use and carbon emissions in residential and commercial buildings by at least 10%.
Below is a very brief overview of the top proposals for the 2021 IECC residential and commercial codes. Refer to the Voters Guide for further instructions about how to vote on proposals.
Vote for Improvements to the 2021 IECC Residential Code
Building Envelope. Several proposals (RE29, RE32, RE33, RE34 and RE36) will lead to increased energy savings through increased insulation levels in the roof, wall and floor assemblies. Additional proposals (RE35 and RE37) focus on increased efficiencies in windows that will lead to more efficient building envelopes.
HVAC Systems. Proposal RE112 requires that all ductwork be tested regardless of where it is located to help ensure it’s installed properly and doesn’t leak heated or cooled air.
Lighting. Proposal RE7 increases the installed lighting efficacy requirements to 65 lumens/watt for lamps and 45 lumens/watt for luminaires and recognizes the market shift to LED lighting and away from compact fluorescent lights. RE148 requires that all exterior lighting, including lighting used for grounds and parking typically found in large multifamily projects, comply with the commercial exterior lighting requirements.
Beneficial Electrification. Three proposals focus on shifting away from fossil fuels and readying residential buildings for electrification. Jurisdictions moving toward electrification to meet their carbon reduction goals are encouraged to support these proposals. RE147 readies the house to install electric heat pumps for space heating and cooling, heat pump water heaters, electric ranges and dryers by requiring outlets next to all fossil fuel uses in the building. RE126 requires more energy-efficient water heaters (e.g. heat pump or grid-enabled). When coupled with renewables, less-efficient water heaters are allowed. CE217 Part II requires a minimum of at least one electric vehicle (EV)-ready parking space per building.
Building Flexibility for the Future. Flex Points increase the flexibility of the code. They trust that builders and design professionals will select the most cost-effective and sensible efficiency improvements for a given project. Pre-determined packages allow the builder or owner to receive credit for higher levels of efficiency in the building envelope, tighter building envelope, and more efficient HVAC, water heating system or duct system. RE209 is a Flex Point package similar to the Washington State residential code that if applied, will result in a 5% efficiency gain.
Residential Zero Energy. Proposal RE223 is a zero energy home proposal that emphasizes efficiency to reduce grid impacts. It prescribes the addition of renewable energy to meet an energy rating indiex (ERI) score of 0. Complying with the ERI score before installing renewables represents 18 to 25% reduction in the building energy use.
Vote for Improvements to the 2021 IECC Commercial Code
Building Envelope. Several proposals (CE 35, CE61, CE63, CE64, CE66, CE68, CE69, CE73 & CE 75) will lead to increased energy savings through increased insulation levels in the roof, wall and floor assemblies. A package of proposals will require air barrier testing in all commercial buildings based on building size and climate zone. Buildings that are not tested will be required to have their air barrier design and installation reviewed by a third party to ensure that is meets the requirements. Proposals CE97, 97 and 99 will lead to more efficient building envelopes.
HVAC Systems. Proposal CE140 improves building efficiency by requiring more efficient low-capacity ventilation fans such as bathroom and exhaust fans. This requirement has been part of the residential requirements for several code cycles; if it becomes part of the commercial code, it will benefit multifamily buildings.
Lighting and Electrical Systems. Proposal CE162 increases the installed lighting efficacy requirements to 65 lumens/watt for lamps and 45 lumens/watt for luminaires and recognizes the market shift to LED lighting and away from compact fluorescent lights. Proposal CE209 improves building efficiency by requiring lighting used for plant growth or maintenance to meet an efficiency of 1.6 micromoles per joule, this promotes the use of higher efficiency lighting and saves significant energy in areas where indoor plant growth is common. Proposal CE216 can save up to 3% of whole-building energy use by requiring controlled plug load receptacles for offices, conference rooms, break rooms, etc.
Beneficial Electrification. Proposal CE217 Part I requires a minimum of at least one electric vehicle (EV)-ready parking space per building. The total number of required EV-ready spaces is based on the total number of parking spaces required for the building. Jurisdictions moving toward electrification to meet their carbon reduction goals are encouraged to support this proposal.
Points Option. CE218 shifts the current C406 Options Packages format from a “select one option” to a points based approach where you select 10 points. This proposal remedies the problem with the current Options Packages in that the Options do not have equivalent energy savings. This proposal provides a new points-based approach and allows builders to install options that have the greatest energy-saving potential by awarding them points. Options with large savings receive more points. The Points Option platform provides cities that want to go above code with the ability to require more points be selected from the table. Proposal CE226 provides additional credit for installing lighting systems that are 15% better than base code. Proposal CE240 provides credit for high efficiency commercial kitchen appliances. All of these proposals work together to provide more options and greater flexibility to the code user.