Midwest Energy Codes Status Report - March 14, 2014

Midwest Energy Codes Status Report
March 14, 2014

Building Energy Codes Activity


Iowa has adopted the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) as its statewide building energy code for commercial and residential buildings, effective March 12, 2014.  There is a buffer period between the effective date and June 1, 2014, where buildings can meet either the current code or the previous code.  After June 1, 2014, the 2012 IECC will be fully effective.  MEEA supported the efforts of the state’s Building Code Bureau at the Iowa Department of Public Safety during the process of updating the statewide building code.  Several other groups and organizations provided support, including: members of the energy rating community, local code officials, members of ASHRAE, several public utilities, design professionals, and other efficiency advocates.

The state adopted the 2012 version of the model code as written for commercial buildings, and they made several amendments to the residential code as follows:

  • Air Infiltration: Air tightness requirement changed from 3 ACH50 to 4 ACH50
  • Duct Tightness: Changes requirements from only allowing total duct leakage testing at 4 cfm/100 sq ft to allowing two options: total leakage of 6 cfm/100 sq ft or 4 cfm/100 sq ft leakage to outside.
  • Building Cavities: Allows interior building cavities to be used as return ducts; if building cavities are used as return ducts, they must be sealed and tested for tightness with the entire duct system (even if all ducts are located within conditioned space).
  • Above-grade wall insulation: Climate Zone 6 prescriptive value changed from (R-20 + 5 or R-13 + 10) to (R-20 or R-13 + 5); U-factor table remains unchanged
  • Exempts additions and renovations from the code

The adoption of the 2012 IECC puts Iowa among the leading states nationwide for building efficiency standards.  Iowa is the second state in the Midwest to adopt the 2012 IECC, after Illinois completed the process in January 2013.  The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that commercial building operators will save 15% – 20% on energy costs, compared to buildings constructed with Iowa’s previous code.  MEEA estimates that homeowners in Iowa will save around $400 per year in utility costs with homes built to the new code.  This would mean $3.5 Million in annual utility bill savings statewide for residential buildings alone, using construction estimates based on historical data. The projected energy savings for residential buildings is equivalent to removing the energy load of over 2,000 homes annually.

For more information, please contact Matthew Giudice at mgiudice@mwalliance.org.  


On February 18th, members of the Nebraska Energy Office (NEO) held a legislator education session on building energy codes.   NEO, supported by MEEA, gave a presentation to a group of state legislators to introduce them to building energy codes and why they are important for Nebraska.  The statewide energy code is currently the 2009 IECC, and any update to the code must be passed by a vote in the full state legislature.  The policymakers that attended were also introduced to issues with code compliance and the activities of the Nebraska Code Compliance Collaborative.  Please note that municipalities in Nebraska are allowed to adopt their own energy code if it is at least as stringent as the statewide code.  Omaha and Lincoln are currently considering adoption of the 2012 IECC.

For more information please contact Chris Burgess, Technical Manager at MEEA: cburgess@mwalliance.org.

National Code-Related Activity

2014 RESNET Building Performance Conference

Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) held its annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia, February 22 -26, 2014.  There were around 1,000 attendees from across the country, including: HERS raters, HERS QA providers, energy advocates, manufacturers, and code officials.  The educational sessions touched on a wide variety of subjects, including: software training, building science, technical issues, ventilation and indoor air quality, new building technologies, real estate issues, and energy code compliance.

Some of the issues that were highlighted at several of the sessions were the potential for improving quality assurance of HERS ratings and the upcoming HERS compliance path in the 2015 IECC.  The energy code issues were addressed from the perspective of both builders and raters, with much interest from the audience. RESNET will be providing educational materials later this year on how the new HERS-based compliance path might work with the 2015 IECC.


For more information on MEEA’s energy codes activities, please contact:

Isaac Elnecave | Senior Policy Manager
Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

Matthew Giudice | Building Policy Associate
Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance