Aligning Utility Programs with Local Codes (Policy)

Bringing energy codes to market often involves a comprehensive approach that starts years before a code is adopted by a local jurisdiction. NBI provides technical assistance through each stage of code development.

NBI aggregates technical information from existing high performance buildings. Observed trends are translated into best-practice energy conservation measures. These packages of measures are modeled in various U.S. climate regions determine cost-effectiveness.

New Construction®

NBI uses its research to craft integrated, whole-building design guidance for small commercial buildings. Incorporating this guidance into voluntary utility programs builds market capacity that allows these strategies to be moved into model stretch codes and then into national model codes. For example with NBI’s Core to Codes initiative, the New Construction Core Performance Guide became the basis for the Massachusetts Stretch Code and then for major revisions to the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code. At that time the IECC increased in stringency by more than 25% over the 2006 edition.

Now that Core Performance is incorporated into various codes, NBI has continued the cycle with its successor, the New Construction New Construction Guide®. An application of the New Construction Guide has been adopted as the prescriptive compliance path for the energy code in Boulder, Colorado. The Boulder Energy Code requires a 30% improvement over ASHRAE 90.1-2010, making the New Construction Guide a part of the most stringent energy code in the country.

Aligning Utility Programs with Codes

Today, utility energy efficiency programs are beginning to consider opportunities to improve energy performance of buildings by incenting stretch code standards.  In many cases, utility energy efficiency programs, utility incentives, and jurisdictional stretch code programs can be aligned. For example, Massachusetts has set a state-approved stretch code as an optional path for adoption by local jurisdictions. To date, that stretch codes has been approved as the mandatory base code in about 100 communities around that state. In Massachusetts, a utility program can be a “deemed” compliance path to the stretch codes, and it can be incentivized. NBI’s Core Performance is one such path.

In California investor-owned utilities can earn demand-side management credit for getting cities to adopt stretch codes.  This has occurred for several city adoptions of CalGreen as a stretch code.

Oregon’s Legislature mandated in 2009 that the Buildings Code Division develop a statewide uniform Reach Code in parallel with the regular three-year updates to the base Oregon Energy Efficiency Specialty Code (OEESC).  The first Oregon Reach Code was effective July 1, 2011, and is an “alternative compliance path” to the OEESC.

Utility Savings Assessment & Program Administration

The Institute for Electric Efficiency offers two papers on how utilities can use energy codes a part of their efficiency programs. They include:

Assessment of Electricity Savings in the U.S. Achievable through New Appliance/Equipment Efficiency Standards and Building Efficiency Codes (2010 – 2025) (May 2011)

Integrating Codes and Standards into Electric Utility Energy Efficiency Portfolios (August 2011)