White Paper on Establishing a Pathway to Outcome-Based Code Policy

Paper / May 16, 2012 / Codes And Policy

For several years, NBI has been engaged in wide‐ranging conversations about code stringency increases and the degree to which current code strategies can continue to achieve aggressive efficiency goals that have been targeted. We have come to recognize that current code mechanisms and strategies are fundamentally limited in the degree to which they can encourage or deliver deep energy savings that aligns with broader policy goals for improvement of the building stock, culminating in net‐zero energy performance. At the same time, energy codes have been a critical tool in driving improved building performance and will continue to have a major role in this area. This paper describes the basic limitations of conventional code structure and enforcement strategies, and explores the potential strategies and implications of an additive or alternative code mechanism referred to here as an ‘Outcome‐Based Code’ (OBC). It is important to keep in mind that although this mechanism is referred to as a code, it is possible that the most effective implementation strategy for this mechanism might be as something more akin to a policy or incentive program used in conjunction with more conventional code mechanisms.


Information in this paper is based on NBI’s work in a range of topic areas that relate to code and building performance issues. These include work developing code language for leading jurisdictions around the country, research on operational characteristics of existing buildings development of integrated whole building incentive programs, and other research and program work. NBI has also been engaged in a series of meetings with code officials, design practitioners, researchers, utility representatives and policymakers specifically focused on issues surrounding outcome‐based codes.