CRF2 : Building Codes and Their Development

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Building codes are sets of rules and regulations governing the design, construction, alteration and maintenance of buildings. While building codes set minimum standards to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of building occupants, energy codes address energy efficiency.

International Code Council (ICC) develops the model energy code, “International Energy Conservation Code” (IECC). IECC has provisions for residential and commercial buildings. IECC allows the use of ASHRAE Standard 90.1, “Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings” as an alternate method to show code compliance for commercial buildings. This standard is published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

IECC and ASHRAE 90.1 are on a three-year code-development cycle; however, it’s a different three-year cycle. As a result, IECC 2012 references ASHRAE 90.1-2010; IECC 2015 references ASHRAE 90.1-2013; and IECC 2018 references ASHRAE 90.1-2016.

Energy Code Adoption in the U.S.

The U.S. does not have a nationally-mandated energy code or standard, so energy codes are adopted at the state or local levels of government. Jurisdictions can choose to adopt a model energy code or standard, a modified version of a model code/standard, or their own state-specific code. Figure 1 illustrates how model codes become adopted at the local level.

Image courtesy of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Figure 2 illustrates where the IECC has been adopted at a state and/or local level in the U.S.

Map courtesy of IECC

The National Roofing Contractors Association, NRCA, offers an easy-to-use resource to research up-to-date state and local government codes adoption: The page also includes contacts for state and local agencies and officials.

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