Model and Base Energy Codes

Codes And Policy / Energy Codes

For more than 20 years, NBI has been working with partners and within the code-making bodies to advance codes at the national, state, and local government levels. National model energy codes and standards like ASHRAE 90.1 and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) have the potential, with each update cycle, to provide steady progress to carbon neutral new construction nationwide starting in 2030. Energy codes are a cost-effective way for cities and local governments to cut carbon emissions, eliminate energy waste, improve comfort and health for building occupants, and increase housing affordability by reducing the ongoing energy burden for owners and renters. The use of model codes and standards also encourages international consistency in the application of provisions.

International Energy Conservation Code

Since buildings account for nearly 40% of U.S. energy consumption and climate emissions, and the IECC serves as the basis for almost every state’s building energy code—for cities and states with energy and climate plans, ensuring that the IECC is climate-aligned will be critical in achieving their goals.

First published in 1995, the IECC has gone through periods of growth and stagnation in its development. In 2021, the International Code Council (ICC) changed the IECC development process from a code to a standard, removing ability of governmental members to vote on the final code. NBI will continue to engage with the ICC to pursue necessary changes to the base code. NBI’s past participation and successes in the IECC code development process are detailed below.

2024 Development

The process to update the 2024 IECC is currently underway. Under this new approach, developed by the International Code Council (ICC) over the last year, proposals to the new model energy code will be vetted by subcommittees and a full Commercial Consensus Committee. Proposals that make their way through the process will be available for public comment. NBI submitted 50 proposals in October 2021 to be considered for the 2024 IECC.


2021 Development

NBI worked with partners and built on past success in the IECC process to support achievement of the important efficiency gains in the IECC. The 2021 code also includes a Zero Energy Homes Appendix which provides cities and states an opportunity to include zero energy building performance as a stretch code.


2018 Development

NBI demonstrated its leadership in codes by submitting proposals for the IECC that included a unified chapter for multifamily housing codes and a lighting measure to begin to tackle indoor agricultural energy usage before the industry expands further.


2015 Development

NBI and several other leading organizations proposed code revisions for a range of I-Codes including the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the International Existing Building Code (IEBC). Proposals focused on the usability and effectiveness of the energy provisions in codes as they relate to new and existing structures.


ASHRAE Standard 90.1

Standard 90.1 serves as a basis for commercial building energy codes and standards, providing minimum requirements for design of most buildings, except low-rise residential buildings. 90.1 serves as the basis for DOE’s commercial energy code determination in the United States and is adopted along with the IECC in all states as a compliance path.

Once used only alongside the IECC, the adoption of 90.1 as the primary or only path for commercial construction may be becoming more common. Currently Washington, DC; Oregon; and the State of Minnesota have code development processes that only allow for the application of 90.1 to their commercial buildings.