Building energy codes and standards set minimum energy efficiency requirements for the design and construction of new and renovated buildings in order to reduce energy use and related greenhouse gas emissions over the useful life of buildings. Included within the codes and standards are minimum requirements for thermal insulation installed as part of the building envelope (i.e., roof, above-grade walls, below-grade walls, and below slab).
The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE Standards 90.1 and 90.2 are the most widely adopted energy codes for jurisdictions within the United States. Specifically, these documents regulate energy efficiency for the building thermal envelope by establishing minimum requirements for thermal insulation and air leakage. Importantly, while the IECC is more frequently adopted by jurisdictions, this code recognizes ASHRAE 90.1 (commercial buildings) and 90.2 (residential buildings) as alternative compliance options.
For a more comprehensive overview of U.S. building energy codes and standards, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s website that contains information on code development and state-specific code adoption and compliance activities.
The National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings establishes the technical requirements for the energy efficient design and construction of new buildings. Like Canada’s building code, the national energy code is published as a model code; the adoption and enforcement of the energy code are the responsibility of provincial and territorial authorities. Furthermore, unlike the model energy codes adopted in the United States, the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings does not establish minimum requirements for alterations to existing buildings.
For information on the building energy code adopted in a specific province or territory, click here.
Going Beyond Minimum Codes
While the codes described above establish minimum energy efficiency standards for buildings, a range of other policy tools and voluntary programs are advancing building energy efficiency to new levels. These tools include optional code requirements that take buildings toward net-zero energy use or voluntary green building programs that benchmark performance across a number of key areas. See below for a non-exclusive list of tools and programs that may be applicable to your next project.
- International Green Construction Code (IgCC): This green code provides the design and construction industry with a single, effective way to deliver sustainable, resilient, high-performance buildings. The 2018 IgCC provides synergies with ASHRAE-developed standards as well as the LEED rating system.
- ENERGY STAR: This voluntary program operated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency helps businesses and homeowners identify cost-effective approaches to managing energy use in their buildings and homes.
- Stretch Energy Codes: Many jurisdictions are developing and adopting stretch (or reach) energy codes to drive greater improvements in building energy efficiency as compared to existing minimum requirements. These more rigorous codes may be adopted to help achieve a jurisdiction’s sustainability goals or net-zero energy building objectives.
- Green Globes: This program is an online assessment protocol and rating system that provides guidance for green building design, operation, and management.
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED): As the most widely used green building rating system in the world, the LEED rating system provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings.
- National Green Building Standard: Developed as ICC/ASHRAE 700, the National Green Building Standard certification provides independent, third-party verification that a home, apartment building, or land development is designed and built to achieve high performance in six key areas, including energy efficiency.
- Home Energy Rating System (HERS): HERS provides an index to measure a home’s energy efficiency and is also a nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance.