The International Code Council, a leading global source of model codes or standards and building safety solutions, presents its “Code on a Mission” challenge with an eye to having over a third of the U.S. population covered by the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) by the end of 2023. To make this a reality, ICC encourages the building industry and communities alike to update their building energy codes to meet or exceed the requirements of the 2021 IECC. The Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership and National Electrical Manufacturers Association are among early supporters.
As communities race to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase energy efficiency, modern and innovative energy codes are essential, ICC contends. Recognizing the increasing need for impactful tools and resources, the 2021 IECC incorporates significant improvements for both residential and commercial buildings over the 2018 edition including:
- Increased insulation requirements and reduced fenestration U-factors and solar heat gain coefficients for both residential and commercial provisions.
- New mechanical ventilation testing and exterior lighting requirements for residential buildings.
- Lower ERI path values and additional energy reduction requirements in the residential requirements.
- Updated mechanical equipment efficiency requirements, new provisions for data centers and plant growth lighting, and increased lighting efficacy and decreased lighting power density requirements for commercial buildings.
- Zero energy appendices for jurisdictions wishing to implement zero energy building requirements today.
The U.S. Department of Energy released in July its final determination, finding that the residential provisions of the 2021 IECC provide a 9.4 percent improvement in energy use and an 8.7 percent improvement in carbon emissions over the 2018 IECC, saving homeowners an average of $2,320 over the life of a typical mortgage. Since 2006, the IECC has provided an approximately 40 percent improvement in energy efficiency, meaning that residents in states and cities on older IECC editions would see far greater savings. The Department has also released data on energy, cost and GHG reductions each state and many cities could achieve by adopting the 2021 IECC.
With the White House setting zero-energy building goals for new construction by 2030 and 2050, ICC observes, it is imperative that national, state and local governments incorporate energy codes to meet their GHG reduction objectives and align with these goals. Additionally, states and localities have set either GHG reduction goals or established zero-energy building targets that will require an alignment with modern energy codes.
Currently, per the Energy Department and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 14 states have adopted codes that are at least 20 percent less efficient than the current IECC while another 10 states have no statewide energy code adopted.
“Reducing society’s GHG emissions is no longer a ‘nice-to-do’ but rather a critical necessity, and governments, communities and the building industry as a whole are increasingly recognizing the contributions of buildings,” says ICC Vice President of Innovation Ryan Colker. “Luckily, modern and innovative model building codes like the IECC have already been developed to significantly curb emissions and help achieve zero-energy buildings. We urge national, state and local governments to accept our challenge and members of the building industry to support code updates.”