Just two weeks ago code officials and government representatives from across the country gathered in Fort Lauderdale for the Final Action Hearings on the International Green Construction Code (IgCC). Most notably for the energy-related sections of this model energy code, the voting members adopted an Outcome-Based Compliance Path. The path is critical to achieving the kind of high efficiency design and operations that will be necessary if cities and states are to meet energy policy goals and reduce carbon emissions from buildings—which are currently responsible for 40% of emissions in the U.S.
New Buildings Institute (NBI) and other advocates proposed this third and optional compliance path as an alternative to traditional modeled and prescriptive approaches, both of which are “predictive,” meaning they don’t tell you how much energy a building uses but rather how much it is supposed to use. Studies show that estimates are often off target, especially given the growing portion of energy demand coming from more unpredictable sources like plug loads, tenant behavior and operations. Outcome-based compliance, which utilizes a building’s metered energy data once the building is fully occupied, offers a true assessment of efficiency and provides opportunities to make corrections if problems arise.
Energy codes are a good guideline for minimum design of energy efficiency in buildings, but until we address the issue of how buildings are constructed and operated, states and jurisdictions will likely fall short in meeting their energy savings goals. The Outcome-Based Compliance in the IgCC provides an answer to that problem with a review of metered energy data from buildings in operation.
While the Final Action Hearing adoption was an important step in the process of making Outcome-Based Compliance a reality in the IgCC, one more action is needed. Qualified members of the International Code Council must complete electronic voting via cdpACCESS by October 29. NBI is urging a ‘yes’ vote on proposal GEW-147 AMPC.
Want to know more? There is growing public discussion about the necessity of collecting and applying energy performance data to achieve high efficiency buildings. Building Operating Management recently published an excellent five-part series on the various considerations of this emerging practice for the commercial building industry. Links to the articles and other information from NBI are below.