Code Council ushers new voices into building energy efficiency dialog

A new International Code Council framework will assist governments and building industry stakeholders in meeting energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction goals. The Code Council Board of Directors, which consists of 18 government officials who were elected by their peers, adopted the framework, “Leading the Way to Energy Efficiency: A Path Forward on Energy and Sustainability to Confront a Changing Climate.” It includes using the ICC’s American National Standards Institute approved standards process to update the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

Future editions of the IECC will build on prior successes, including an increase of efficiency requirements by about 40 percent, or an average of 8 percent a cycle from 2006 to 2021— allowing the Code to remain a strong avenue for communities to reach their energy and sustainability goals globally. With the base 2021 IECC efficiency requirements just 10 percent away from net zero for residential buildings, under the new framework future IECC editions will increase base efficiency using a balancing test proposed in bipartisan legislation that has cleared the U.S. House and Senate and has been supported by energy efficiency advocates and the building industry.

The IECC will be developed under a revised scope and be part of a portfolio of greenhouse gas reduction solutions that could address electric vehicles, electrification and decarbonization, integration of renewable energy and energy storage, plus existing buildings performance standards. The Code Council’s new framework will also provide optional requirements aimed at achieving net zero energy buildings presently and by 2030. Using a tiered approach, the framework offers adopting jurisdictions a menu of options, from a set of minimum requirements to pathways to net zero energy and additional greenhouse gas reduction policies.

“After careful consideration of all the input, the Board of Directors has approved this coordinated, comprehensive strategy to support the needs of our communities, building on the Code Council’s strong foundation of technical solutions provided by the IECC, International Residential Code and International Green Construction Code,” says ICC President Greg Wheeler.

“The Code Council is committed to furthering the progress the IECC has made to date and ensuring our energy code continues to meet the needs of governments around the world to advance their energy efficiency goals,” adds CEO Dominic Sims. “We have heard clearly feedback from the building safety community asking us to strengthen the IECC and create new resources to help communities address their climate goals. We will rise to that challenge.”

ICC has also announced the establishment of an Energy and Carbon Advisory Council consisting of governmental and industry leaders. It will weigh in on which additional greenhouse gas reduction policies the IECC should integrate, the pace that the IECC’s baseline efficiency requirements should advance, plus needs and gaps that ICC should work to address. Outreach to fill the Energy and Carbon Advisory Council has commenced, concurrent with a call for IECC Development Committee applications. The committees will represent diversity across nine interest categories.

The International Energy Conservation Code companion is posted at

The New Buildings Institute in Portland, Ore., presents its just-released Building Decarbonization Code as a groundbreaking tool aiming to deliver carbon neutral performance and serving as a 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) overlay. NBI aims to help states and cities working to mitigate carbon resulting from energy use in the built environment, which accounts for 39 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. It also offers market insight into rules that will determine how new buildings are designed and constructed.

Efficiency gains in the 2021 IECC create ideal timing to offer a “decarbonization overlay” to the model code, notes NBI, which has structured the Building Decarbonization Code language to be compatible with the current version of the IECC and covers both residential and commercial construction. The IECC is in use or adopted in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

Part of a larger toolkit being developed for cities and states, the Building Decarbonization Code is focused on codes for new construction. While not an all-electric code, its language prioritizes efficient electric equipment. The overlay incorporates code solutions spanning key electrification technologies, including solar, electric vehicles, battery storage, and demand response. It is designed to enhance building-grid integration so facilities can be effectively used as assets to shift times when energy is consumed and alleviate pressure on the electricity grid during power demand peaks.

“Many jurisdictions have aggressive climate-related goals, and over 200 cities have made pledges to achieve 100 percent clean energy or ‘net zero’ emissions,” says NBI Director of Codes Kim Cheslak. “This new code gives them a powerful tool they can use right away.”