Building Decarbonization Code

Guideline / February 10, 2021 / Codes And Policy / Energy Codes

The Building Decarbonization Code is a groundbreaking tool aiming to deliver carbon neutral performance. The new code language from NBI serves as a building decarbonization overlay to the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). It is designed to help states and cities working to mitigate carbon resulting from energy use in the built environment, which accounts for 39% of U.S. emissions. It also offers market insight into rules that will determine how new buildings are designed and constructed in the future in order to curb the worst impacts of climate change.

The overlay is focused on codes for new construction with the potential of adding code language for existing buildings in a future version. While not an all-electric code, the language does prioritize efficient electric equipment and is designed to be flexible. Sections cover All-Electric and Mixed-Fuel options for residential and commercial construction. For ease of use, we have provided a comprehensive PDF document and Word documents of the code provisions.

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More About the Building Decarbonization Code

The Building Decarbonization Code incorporates solutions to the inclusion of key electrification technologies including solar, electric vehicles, battery storage, and demand response and is designed to enhance building-grid integration so the buildings can be effectively used as an asset to shift times when energy is used and alleviate pressure on the electricity grid during peak demand periods. Technology choices are based on climate zone to ensure that the appropriate heating and cooling technologies are practical for the specific location. For example, electric resistance heating is not prohibited as heat pumps in cold temperature climates may require electric resistant strip heat as a practical back up. Commercial codes consider different building typologies and available technology to provide practical end use electrification. Under current technology limitations, the commercial code may not be able to fully decarbonize all end uses.

Jurisdictions may use either section of the overlay in its entirety or use portions of either or both to amend the 2021 IECC to a code that is right for adoption to meet the needs of their communities and supports their climate goals. To learn more, read the full press release and watch an on-demand webinar about decarbonizing buidings through codes, Getting to Zero: Carbon Neutral Codes (live session held on Jan. 28, 2021).

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