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US Adopts 30% Energy-Efficiency Savings for Buildings

More than 500 U.S. state and local code officials voted to adopt new building codes that will achieve 30 percent in energy savings, using the 2006 model code as the baseline, for commercial and residential buildings, reports the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The new 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) will align with the 30 percent energy savings goal of the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of State Energy Officials, governors, lawmakers, and the broad-based Energy Efficient Codes Coalition (EECC), says ACEEE.

The model energy code governs residential and commercial building construction, additions, and renovations in 47 states and the District of Columbia where local building codes are based on these national model standards.

Code officials also voted to eliminate the weaker Energy Chapter of the International Residential Code, replacing it with the IECC to avoid any confusion within the codes, according to the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT).The IECC is now the ICC’s only model energy code for residential and commercial buildings.

The proposals adopted into the new code address all aspects of residential and commercial building construction. In the residential sector, improvements will:

–Ensure that new homes are better sealed to reduce heating and cooling losses

–Improve the efficiency of windows and skylights

–Increase insulation in ceilings, walls, and foundations

–Reduce wasted energy from leaky heating and cooling ducts

–Improve hot-water distribution systems to reduce wasted energy and water in piping

–Boost lighting efficiency

ACCEE says energy-saving improvements for commercial buildings match those for homes, and  includes continuous air barriers, daylighting controls, use of economizers in additional climates, and a choice of three paths for designers and developers to increase efficiency: renewable energy systems, more efficient HVAC equipment, or improved lighting systems.

The package also requires commissioning of new buildings to ensure that the actual energy performance of the building meets the design intent, says ACEEE.

 According to a study led by IMT, each dollar spent on code compliance yields a six-fold payoff in energy savings, which is expected to save American consumers $10.2 billion annually.

For additional help, the DOE and NREL recently released two technical reports that provide recommendations on how to achieve 50 percent energy savings in new and existing large office buildings and large hospitals.

Building suppliers also are developing products and tools to help contractors and architects cut energy use.

As an example, Wausau Window and Wall Systems has introduced an online Green Product Selection Tool to help users rank and compare performance information and potential energy savings.

It enables users to choose from eight cities to view performance data between a set of Wausau products for either new construction or renovation projects. Performance information includes annual energy, peak demand, carbon emissions, daylight, glare, condensation and cost savings.

Other selection criteria include the windows’ orientation, window-to-wall ratio, framing system, glass product and whether to rank or compare the performance information.

A worst-to-best ranking will order the performance results of a selected design condition, compared to a generic double clear window (for new construction) or a generic single clear window (for replacement).

A comparison view presents four design scenarios accompanied by bar graphs and explanations.

Using cost savings estimates generated by these comparisons, users can apply their project-specific, financial parameters to analyze payback time or rate of return, says Wausau.

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