2015 has been a busy year for the metal building industry. From energy code changes to new product and system introductions, it can be difficult to keep up with the changing landscape. So what’s most important to remember from 2015, and what should you know going into 2016? It’s all about the codes.
2014 Changes Affected 2015 Projects
The latest editions of the ASRHAE Standard (2013) and the IECC Code (2015) were published in 2014, and Maryland and Vermont adopted them this year. Other states will inevitably implement in future cycles.
The most important updates to the ASHRAE Standard and IECC code include changes to increased energy efficiency and extended flexibility and usability of the Standard/code. For example, door and window performance requirements (heating efficiencies) have been increased, as have a few building envelope performance values. Also, per the ASHRAE 2013 Standard, if the purlin space is under 52” there’s a reduction you must take in the U-value in the overall insulation system. This was the first reduction mentioned for metal buildings for purlin spaces under 52”.
State Adoptions Within the Last Year
The following states have adopted IECC 2012 or ASHRAE 2010 in the last year:
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- Washington State (state-specific code modeled after IECC 2012)
What’s Here to Stay: Looking Toward 2016
Without a doubt, the more complex commercial energy codes become, the bigger the role COMcheck will play. COMcheck is the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s commercial energy compliance tool that essentially tells a user whether or not a building meets the requirements of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE 90.1, as well as some state-specific codes. Many states require a COMcheck report before a building permit is even issued, so oftentimes builders must utilize the software to find the building code requirements for their state.
Although this may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that a building must be constructed exactly to what’s specified in the COMcheck report, as there may be a final inspection of the building after the report has been issued. If there are discrepancies between the report and what has been installed, you may be required to fully redo the install.
It’s also important to know that, once a path of compliance is determined, (meaning either IECC or ASHRAE 90.1) for a building envelope, the lighting and mechanical design must follow the same path. Take this example: A building envelope is designed and a COMcheck report is run. If it’s determined that IECC 2012 will be the choice for the envelope, the lighting and mechanical design must follow the same IECC 2012 code. You couldn’t use ASHRAE 90.1. Oftentimes this is overlooked; I’ve seen many COMcheck reports that incorrectly utilize the wrong or outdated mix of IECC and ASHRAE.
It’s been an eventful year for the metal building industry, with commercial energy codes taking center stage. Not only were the changes in the codes landscape important – many states adopted IECC 2012 and two have implemented IECC 2015 – but they symbolize a shift in metal building construction. Gone are the days of installing a single layer of insulation to “get by”. Insulation solutions are part of a more complex system now, and all of the pieces and parts (think: Lighting, HVAC and building envelope) must work together to form a cohesive unit. Still, one old standby has remained in the foreground: Fiberglass continues to be the most economical choice for meeting any metal building’s insulation requirement. To read more about what’s ahead with commercial codes and the metal building industry, visit my “Code Man” blog.