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NBI, AIA Propose Changes to IECC to Help Buildings Save on Energy Costs
June 15, 2009

The New Buildings Institute (NBI) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) are proposing comprehensive changes to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for new commercial buildings that would help create buildings that are 20-25 percent more energy efficient than what today's average standards require. The groups submitted their proposal to the International Code Council (ICC) June 1 for consideration in the current code development process.

According to an announcement from NBI and AIA, the proposed high-efficiency energy code is modeled on NBI's Core Performance protocol, a direct and prescriptive approach to achieving energy savings in commercial buildings. Building codes based on Core Performance have already been adopted by the state of Massachusetts and are under consideration by other states and municipalities.

"In co-authoring this proposal, it was our intention to make sure that the new energy codes would be stringent enough to advance our stated goal of achieving carbon neutrality in buildings by 2030," said Christine McEntee, executive vice president/CEO of the American Institute of Architects. "We feel it is important for the private sector to take a leadership position on this important issue that relates to the built environment."

"We're already seeing market shifts toward more energy-efficient, high performance buildings among the design community and forward-thinking owners," said Dave Hewitt, NBI executive director. "These market leaders are benefiting from lower energy costs and higher-value buildings," he said.

The high efficiency energy code proposal contains specific measures and strategies that allow designers and builders to use widely available equipment and products. These include:

Building Envelope. The proposal incorporates insulation standards that have been used in utility programs or adopted into recent national model codes. The windows and doors are specified to provide good insulation value while also keeping out excess heat that increases air conditioning costs.

Heating/Cooling. The proposal provides for improved design of air distribution systems and increased efficiency levels in heating and cooling equipment.

Lighting. Energy consumption is reduced by using a sensible approach to placing high-efficiency lighting fixtures, ballasts, and bulbs in work and public areas in offices, schools, retail, and other types of commercial buildings. Lighting controls, such as occupancy and daylight sensors, also reduce wasted energy. The proposal ensures that quality lighting is delivered with minimum energy use and cost in all types of commercial buildings.

Quality Assurance. In order to assure that buildings save energy as they were designed to, the proposal specifies testing or commissioning processes for key building energy systems.

Renewable Power. The proposal offers options for using renewable power to meet part of the energy savings objective.

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