Commercial Energy Codes: Top Tips for Ensuring Code Compliance

commercial energy code

Bill Beals
District Manager of Therm-All Insulation

As a commercial energy code specialist, I am often asked the same questions by contractors: “How do I get my next project to meet code? What are my local energy code requirements? Where do I begin?” To help you get started, I’ve compiled a list of my top commercial energy code compliance tips. Here are some of the major components of energy codes and how to guarantee your next project is up to code:

  1. Understand the difference between the two national code requirements – International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).First, ASHRAE is a standard, not a code. IECC is the code that references the ASHRAE standard. Other differences include:
    • ASHRAE and IECC have different three-year cycles.
    • IECC follows behind ASHRAE by two years. For example, ASHRAE 90.1 2010 = IECC 2012.

    IECC adopts the latest ASHRAE standard, plus any addendums and new data. So, essentially, the major difference between the two lies within the envelope, since the envelope and component requirements in IECC are more stringent than the ASHRAE standard.

  2. Learn what’s in a code.There are three major components of a commercial energy code:
    • Lighting
    • HVAC
    • Envelope

    Additionally, there are many elements within the building envelope subject to energy code regulations, including:

    • Opaque roof and wall assemblies
    • Windows
    • Skylights
    • Doors
    • Foundation
    • Floor
  3. Per the Department of Energy (DOE) mandate, all states were required to meet a minimum of ASHRAE 90.1-2010 by October 2013.Many states have already adopted this requirement, although a few – including Mississippi, Alabama and Maine – have not. These and other states can file a delay until their cycle is up. You see, each state, much like a code, has a cycle. Most states are on a three-year cycle. So, ultimately, states that have not yet adopted the minimum ASHRAE 90.1-2010 Standard will be required to do so once their cycle is complete. This is why we often witness rolling changes in national commercial code adoption.
  4. Understand COMcheck™ and how it can help on your next project.COMcheck is the DOE’s commercial energy compliance tool that essentially tells a user whether or not a building meets the requirements of the IECC and ASHRAE 90.1, as well as state-specific codes. COMcheck is a software that can be downloaded for Windows® and Mac® and it supports the 2006, 2009 and 2012 IECC, as well as ASHRAE Standard 90.1: 2004, 2007 and 2010, and various state codes.COMcheck is a performance method, which means it provides the building’s overall performance requirement and replaces the individual prescriptive requirements for building envelopes and assemblies. Builders often prefer the performance method over the prescriptive because it allows more flexibility with the building envelope.Speaking of COMcheck, you can use it to keep up-to-date with all current state codes. Each time you open the program, select your state and view the “Current Status”. You will then be presented with your current commercial code.

I hope my “Top Tips” have been helpful. If you have questions related to commercial energy codes, Therm-All’s trained energy code specialists want to help. Call 888-2-INSUL-8, or visit for more information about how Therm-All can provide energy code assistance on your next project.

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Bill Beals

Bill Beals, District Manager of Therm-All Insulation, is a 30-year veteran of the metal building industry. Bill is a contributing member of several committees, including the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) Energy Committee and the National Insulation Association (NIA) Laminators Committee.
Bill also belongs to the International Code Council (ICC) and is often invited to share his extensive energy code knowledge through presentations at industry conferences, most recently including The 45th Annual Metal Building Contractors and Erectors (MBCEA) Conference. Bill has contributed to many articles and reference guides, and authors Therm-All’s bi-monthly commercial energy codes blog called “The Code Man”.

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