Monday, November 28, 2011

Seattle Energy Code Update

Now that the 2012 versions of the I-codes have been published by the International Code Council (ICC), the Washington State Building Code Council (WSBCC) is beginning to ramp up for the 2012 updates to the Washington State Codes.  
-          If the WSBCC process follows that of previous code update cycles: 
code change proposals due by 1 March 2012; WSBCC Technical Advisory Groups (TAG) review the proposals in the spring of 2012 and make their recommendations to the WSBCC by the end of May 2012;  the WSBCC considers the TAG recommendations at their June 2012 meeting and votes on a draft for public review in July 2012;  the draft published in August 2012;  public hearings in September and October 2012;  the WSBCC vote on the final wording for the codes in November 2012;  and the 2012 codes take effect on 1 July 2013.  (Note that the WSBCC will decide the actual schedule.)
-          For more information on the 2012 updates to the Washington State Codes, see the WSBCC website at: .
For the 2012 Washington State Energy Code (WSEC), several factors will come into play: 
(1) possible new format, (2) State law requiring additional energy savings with each WSEC update, and (3) Federal Energy Policy Act (EPAct).
  1. Possible new format:
    - The WSBCC has expressed an interest in using the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) as the format for the 2012 WSEC.  Then, there would be Washington State amendments so as to bring the 2012 IECC into compliance with State and Federal laws. 
    - At a minimum, this would change the format of the Energy Code.
  2. State law requiring additional energy savings with each WSEC update:
    - SB 5854 (passed by the Washington State Legislature in 2009) provided direction for future updates to the Energy Code in effect in Washington State (RCW 19.27A.160) :  “residential and nonresidential construction permitted under the 2031 state energy code must achieve a seventy percent reduction in annual net energy consumption, using the adopted 2006 Washington state energy code as a baseline;  The council shall adopt state energy codes from 2013 through 2031 that incrementally move towards achieving the seventy percent reduction in annual net energy consumption …the council shall report its progress by December 31, 2012, and every three years thereafter.” 
    - To obtain a 70% reduction in energy consumption by 2031 (using the 2006 Washington State Energy Code as a base) would require a 14% improvement each cycle FROM THE CODE ADOPTED IN THE PREVIOUS CYCLE, therefore the energy consumption would be 86% of the previous code (e.g. the 2009 WSEC would have an energy consumption of 86% of the 2006 WSEC; the 2012 WSEC would have an energy consumption of 86% of the 2009 WSEC; etc).
  3. Federal Energy Policy Act (EPAct):
    - Federal law (1992 Energy Policy Act - EPAct) set baselines for state energy codes.  For “commercial” buildings (defined as all buildings other than low-rise residential buildings), ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, is specified.  The law provides that the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) must evaluate each update to ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1 to see if it saves energy compared to the previous version. 
    - On 19 October 2011, USDOE issued their determination that ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2010 saves more energy than ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2007 (“national source energy savings of approximately 18.2 percent of commercial building energy consumption; site energy savings are estimated to be approximately 18.5 percent”).   Per Federal law, this started the statutory clock where States have two years to revise their Energy Codes to be as energy-efficient as ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2010, and then to submit a certification to USDOE that they have achieved this. 
    - While the 2009 WSEC saved more energy than the 2007 version of ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1, it certainly did not save 18% more energy.  Consequently, the 2012 WSEC provisions will need to be revised so as to save at least as much energy as ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2010.
    - For further information, see: .


John Hogan, AIA, P.E.
  LEED Accredited Professional
Seattle Department of Planning & Development (DPD)
700 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000
P.O. Box 34019
Seattle, WA 98124-4019

voice: 206-386-9145
fax: 206-386-4039

Seattle Energy Code website:

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