Model Stretch Code Provisions for a 20% Performance Improvement in New Commercial Construction

Guideline / November 6, 2017 / Codes And Policy / Energy Codes

This summary document describes a set of code strategies that represent a 20% performance improvement for commercial buildings over the ASHRAE 90.1-2013 code baseline (and approximately similar savings over the IECC 2015 baseline).


An additional document provides the detailed code language necessary to implement the 20% Stretch Code Provisions, access the code language and further information and support for jurisdictions considering a stretch code here.

The 20% Stretch Code Provisions are the first outcome of a larger project that is focused directly on the technical development of stretch codes (also known as “reach” codes) and standards, and on support for jurisdictions in adopting and implementing meaningful goals and policies to reduce carbon impacts and energy use. The goal of this effort is to develop a series of stretch codes/standards for both commercial and residential construction of increasing stringency that can be adopted by cities as policy or incentive programs to support progress toward energy or climate goals. As jurisdictions move forward with the adoption of codes and policies that support building stock performance improvement, a set of increasingly stringent performance metrics are anticipated, ranging from a 20% improvement over baseline code performance to a policy that delivers zero energy performance in buildings.

A key characteristic of this initial 20% stretch code measures is that it is designed to be ‘adoptable’ as an energy code strategy. This means that it will align with current code scope and limitations, and primarily impact building components that are currently regulated by city building departments. It is also focused on prescriptive strategies, which is what most building departments and design projects are familiar with. This documentation describes a set of code strategies that represent a 20% performance improvement for commercial buildings over the ASHRAE 90.1-2013 code baseline (and approximately similar savings over the IECC 2015 baseline).

The savings of these strategies have been analyzed by the Pacific Northwest National Lab to demonstrate  achievement of the 20% threshold on average across the building stock. Cities which control their own code destiny, meaning they can adopt energy codes at the city level, can use part or all of the measures in this model stretch code to increase code stringency or adopt a stretch code strategy with incentives. They can also be aligned with local utility incentive programs to drive higher compliance rates. For jurisdictions that are not able to adopt codes outside of a state process, the stretch code strategies could be used as part of a zoning policy or in conjunction with utility or other incentives.

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