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Energy codes see increases in stringency and adoption, affecting product trends

Post Time:Sep 11,2012Classify:Industry NewsView:62

The energy code environment of the last two years witnessed two major trends: significant increases in code stringency and energy efficiency, as well as code adoption and enforcement, said Tom Culp, owner of Birch Point Consulting, during his energy code updateat the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance educational seminar, Sept. 11, in Las Vegas.

"Important things have happened in the code world that haven't hit the streets yet," Culp said. "Be aware [of these code changes], and be ready."

Energy codes are becoming tougher to meet. The two major baseline energy codes, ASHRAE 90.1 and the International Energy Conservation Code, increased stringency by 30 percent in their most recent additions (ASHRAE 2010 and 2012 IECC), Culp said.

More stringent U-factor requirements in the codes will lead to notable product trends for the industry.

The requirements will necessitate insulating glass and low-emissivity coatings in all climate zones, and "argon gas fill and warm-edge spacers will be needed in some climate zones," Culp said.

A new addition to the codes that will affect the glass and glazing industry is a requirement for toplighting. "Both ASHRAE 90.1 and IECC now require a minimum skylight area and daylighting controls in large open spaces," Culp said.

Culp also pointed out an interesting development in the 2013 ASHRAE 90.1 that will require daylight zones to be identified on floor plan submittals. "This gets architects thinking about daylighting earlier in the design process," he said. "This is a small but important change that could have a large positive impact."

Code adoption and enforcement of the more stringent codes sharply increased in the last several years due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. ARRA provided funding to states, provided that they adopt the most recent energy codes. That surge in adoption might not continue, however, due to a backlash in code adoptionresulting fromseveral controversial code changes. One such change required fire sprinkler requirements for single-family homes. In response, "some states updated their laws to make code adoption more difficult," Culp said. "How quickly states move on to next version is more uncertain."

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