Thursday, October 3, 2013

Arkansas's Proposed Rule Adopting the 2009 IECC: Last Call for Written Comments

Arkansas has adopted the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), effective January 1, 2014. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission Energy Office is soliciting public comment on the Rule that will formally update the residential energy standard in Arkansas from IECC 2003 to IECC 2009. The deadline to submit written comments to the AEDC is close of business tomorrow, October 4, 2013.

Written comments should be addressed to J.D. Lowery, Deputy Director of the Arkansas Energy Office and submitted in any one of three ways: 

  • POSTAL MAIL: Arkansas Economic Development Commission
    Attention: J.D. Lowery
    900 West Capitol, Suite 400
    Little Rock, Arkansas  72201 
  • FAX: (501) 682-7499

The 2009 IECC residential energy standards would require that all new homes constructed in the State of Arkansas receive a HERS rating (including blower door and duct testing) and provide a home energy disclosure label for consumers in a manner similar to mpg ratings for vehicles or Energy Star ratings for appliances. Adoption of the rule is a necessary step toward listing Arkansas among the 40 other states that have previously upgraded their energy building codes to at least the 2009 standard.

The 2009 IECC is substantially different from the 2003 IECC, and these differences are specifically intended to improve energy efficiency. According to a 2009 study by the U.S. Department of Energy, “Impacts of the 2009 IECC for Residential Buildings at State Level,” “important new requirements” in the 2009 IECC include:

· A requirement that duct systems be tested and sealed, and air leakage minimized;

· Half of the lighting “lamps” in a building must be energy efficient;

· “Trade-off credits” are no longer available for high efficiency HVAC equipment. For example, under the 2006 IECC, use of a high efficiency furnace could be traded for a reduction in wall insulation. Such trade-offs are eliminated under the 2009 IECC;

· Vertical fenestration U-factor requirements and maximum allowable solar heat gain coefficients are reduced;

· Insulation requirements are improved and increased;

· Better air-sealing language;

· Controls for driveway/sidewalk snow melting systems; and,

· Pool covers are required for heated pools.

Obviously, more efficient sidewalk snow melting systems, basement insulation, and heated pools are not going to drive improved residential energy efficiency in Arkansas. The improvements in duct and HVAC efficiency, building envelope tightness and air sealing, and window and insulation requirements are the meat of the coconut for those in the Arkansas sustainasphere.

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy analyzed the impact of the 2009 IECC in Arkansas. The DOE study found an average savings of $242.00 per house, per year for homes meeting the requirements of the 2009 IECC.

Annual savings of $242.00 might not, at first blush, blow your skirt up. But consider: if the average life of a home is 30 years, not adopting the 2009 IECC will result in homeowners paying an additional $7,260.00 in energy costs over the life of the home.

The adoption of the 2009 IECC should also stimulate job creation and growth. The new requirements for air duct testing and sealing, and for general building envelope tightness will translate directly into a need for quality third-party testing, inspection, and compliance professionals. In simple terms, this means more home energy raters, auditors, inspectors, specialists, and consultants. These are skilled positions. Once created, they should become permanent parts of the sustainable economy.

More than pure economics, adopting the 2009 IECC is an integral step on the path to sustainability. Green building technology is rapidly evolving, and the only surefire way to ensure that Arkansans are provided with affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy is to adopt and enforce updated building standards based on current technology.

Here is a link to the AEDC’s proposed Rule adopting the 2009 IECC.

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