Global Forum Looks Beyond Current Codes
The Energy Efficiency Global Forum & Exposition (EE Global) in
Washington, D.C., hosted by the Alliance to Save Energy, continued
yesterday with a presentation on "Best Building Energy Efficiency
Performance: Moving Beyond Codes."
Chris Mathis, president of MC Squared and a founding member of
the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), focused on efforts
for energy efficiency beyond those required by current building
codes. He began by offering a loose definition of building codes:
"The least safe, least strong, least energy-efficient building allowed
As with other speakers at the event, Mathis advocated a change
toward more energy-efficient buildings through the codes as well
as through incentive programs.
"The primary 'friction' in the system is resistance to change,"
Mathis said of the code process.
Often, change comes as the result of a disaster, Mathis said. He
pointed out examples running from the burning of Rome during Nero's
time, which he noted led to early sanitation and fire codes, to
Hurricane Katrina, which has provoked Louisiana to look at building
codes. Mathis then asked his audience what might constitute an energy
disaster. What type of energy disaster might provoke the United
States to write energy efficiency into the building codes?
Mathis looked, as one example, at windows in existing homes. Of
110 million existing homes, Mathis said, 64 percent have single-pane
windows. Fifty-six percent of residential windows now feature low-E,
while 37 percent of commercial buildings feature low-E coatings.
According to Mathis, replacing windows with the current minimum
energy codes would save one ton of air conditioning per house, or
"Are we doing enough?" Mathis asked. "If we embrace the idea of
sustainability, what can we do to get there?"
He encouraged his audience to look at the building codes as the
minimum required, and strive for attaining higher certifications
in new construction and renovations. "What minimum are we willing
to embrace?" he asked.
Bill Nesmith, the assistant director for conservation with the
Oregon Department of Energy, noted that some states have worked
to make sure their codes offer something more stringent than at
the federal level. Nesmith spoke on how Oregon has worked to create
stringent codes for improving energy efficiency.
One listener noted that no matter how well-designed the code, it
won't work without enforcement.
Nesmith agreed. "You can have the greatest code in the world on
paper; if it's not enforced it can't get you where you want to go."
He added, "People have to want it, and want the green features."
Stay tuned to USGNN.comô for more on the EE Global Forum.
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