See how local building codes can update their energy requirements to be more performance-oriented, and how FMs may need to help prove compliance

by Brianna Crandall — November 6, 2017 — A number of cities and states across the United States have begun to recognize that the current code-based mechanisms in place do not provide the means to help them achieve their energy performance goals for buildings, according to the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS). Codes largely focus on design requirements for a limited number of building characteristics, but do not require verification that the design results in actual, measurable energy savings, says the Institute.

That is why the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and the New Buildings Institute (NBI) developed Implementing an Outcome-Based Compliance Path in Energy Codes: Guidance for Cities, released this week. This guidance document provides jurisdictions with a new approach to shift the focus towards actual, measurable energy results so they can begin impacting energy influencing measures not currently included in the nation’s model energy codes.

Most jurisdictions across the nation use a prescriptive or performance-based pathway to achieve their energy-efficiency requirements. For years, NIBS and NBI have worked to address the actual, measured energy performance of buildings across their life cycle. They have submitted code change proposals through the ASHRAE and International Code Council (ICC) code development processes to establish an outcome-based compliance path within the model codes. While developing the guidance document, they received feedback from industry stakeholders representing numerous aspects of the industry.

Implementing an Outcome-Based Compliance Path in Energy Codes: Guidance for Cities provides jurisdictions with the regulatory language to put an outcome-based compliance path into place. Jurisdictions can use the draft regulatory language as a framework around which they can begin to align their high-level energy goals through their building codes, explains NIBS.

The guidance document, which is available free to jurisdictions, includes code language that can be incorporated directly into a jurisdiction’s energy code.

Post-occupancy requirements

Once a facility has been deemed compliant as far as the design and construction process goes, and is occupied, the building owner has 24 months to present the code official with utility bills for a 12-month period where total energy use falls below the building’s energy use intensity (EUI) target. This of course could involve the facilities manager/s (FM/s).

Remedial actions may be required, such as conducting an energy audit, retrofitting any non-compliant building systems, and undergoing a retro-commissioning or recommissioning process to identify deviations from the original design intent and bring systems and practices back into alignment.

Jurisdictions interested in starting on the outcome-based path to achieving energy goals, or facilities managers and building owners interested in the potential impact on building energy codes, can download Implementing an Outcome-Based Compliance Path in Energy Codes: Guidance for Cities from the NIBS Web site now.