US: Rethinking model energy codes for net zero carbon buildings

(ACEEE blog, 17 Apr 2023) Updating building energy codes is a key policy tool for energy efficiency, but achieving ambitious climate goals will require codes to focus on greenhouse gas emissions, not energy usage alone. With $670 million in upcoming federal funding for implementing zero-energy codes, financial support will soon be available to states and localities.

States and jurisdictions do not typically develop their own codes, but rather adopt model codes—so rethinking the model energy codes is necessary to help states and jurisdictions across the country cut emissions from buildings. In this post, we’ll look at some of the technical aspects of these codes to orient them toward emissions reductions that will get us on a path to net zero carbon buildings.

The benchmark model energy code for commercial and multifamily buildings over three stories is developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and is called ASHRAE Standard 90.1. For residential buildings below three stories, the benchmark model energy code is the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) from the International Codes Council.

ASHRAE has committed to a net zero carbon 90.1 model code by its 2031 version, and the International Codes Council has an Energy and Carbon Advisory Council to inform development of the IECC. To meet their climate goals, it’s time for ASHRAE and the International Codes Council to address needed changes in the model codes and the processes by which they’re developed.

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ACEEE blog, 17 Apr 2023: US: Rethinking model energy codes for net zero carbon buildings