Building Code Update: Denver, Aspen and Ohio

Here are important building code developments around the nation.

Denver: In late December 2016, City Council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring commercial and multifamily properties over 25,000 square feet to use EnergyStar Portfolio Manager, and then make those energy scores available to the public. This ordinance applies to applicable buildings in the City and County of Denver.

As with other municipalities that have adopted such a measure, it will be phased in, starting with municipal buildings. Here is the timetable:

  • a. Municipal buildings begin reporting June 1, 2017
  • b. Buildings over 50,000 square feet begin reporting June 1, 2017
  • c. Building between 25,000 square feet and 50,000 square feet begin reporting June 1, 2018

Building owners must report annual energy use intensity, EnergyStar Portfolio Manager score, greenhouse gas emissions, and any data fields needed to calculate the Energy Star Portfolio Manager score for auditing and verification purposes. The reporting of monthly energy bill data is not required, but building owners must keep monthly energy consumption data for at least 24 months.

These ordinances are becoming more and more common in major cities and a few surrounding suburbs. If you support this kind of initiative, there are plenty of examples out there (Kansas City, Mo., and Evanston, Ill., just to name a few very recent cities) to assist your efforts.

Ohio: Via HB 554, the Ohio legislature wanted to extend the State’s two-year freeze of their energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) and make a 1% annual energy savings target voluntary over the next two years. Governor John Kasich vetoed that bill, so the EERS became unfrozen on New Year’s Day. The EERS will achieve 1% annual energy savings through 2020 and 2% starting in 2021.

It’s not all good news, though. SB 310 altered the EERS by creating an industrial opt-out, which allows large energy users to avoid paying into utility energy efficiency programs. Also, utilities can earn credit toward their overall compliance through energy savings achieved independently by customers.

Aspen, Colo.: In early January, the City took the unusual step of adopting the 2015 IECC, but deleting the ERI compliance path. In its place, they adopted an alternative compliance option in Section R406. The City is looking for three things:

  1. Minimal heating and cooling loads
  2. Reduction of hot water consumption
  3. Reduced energy used for lighting.

The City’s website does not appear to be updated yet, but thanks to Energy Vanguard’s site, we have a copy of their Section R4061:

Section R406: Equivalent building option. Dwellings that meet both of the following criteria shall be deemed in compliance with this chapter.

  1. The ratio of the air conditioning capacity to conditioned space is less than or equal to 1 ton per 1000 square feet.
  2. The ratio of the space heating system capacity to floor area of conditioned space is less than or equal to 32,000 Btu/h per 1000 square feet.

Section R406. Equivalent hot water. The distance from the hot water supply outlet to hot water pipe to the hot water entry to a room where hot water is used shall be no more than 10ft. This shall apply to the kitchens, bathrooms with showers or tub, and rooms with a clothes washer.

Section R406.3 Equivalent lighting. Dwellings in compliance with at least one of the following requirements shall be deemed in compliance with Section 404:

  1. Lamps over 15 watts shall be CFL, LED, or have an efficacy not less than 90 lumens per watt.
  2. At least 90% of the lamps or fixtures shall have an efficacy not less than 75 lumens per watt.

While some welcome the simplification of the code, other stakeholders, such as HERS raters, are none too happy. This cuts them out of possible code compliance work. According to Mark McLain, a local architect and HERS rater, they also deleted the mandatory air infiltration testing.

Just as it’s stated on the Energy Vanguard site, we will be interested to see how many builders choose this compliance option. Will they go with the new, simplified path, or will they stick with the prescriptive or performance paths? And will we see this kind of modification proposed for other municipal codes? Only time will tell.