2018 IECC Votes Are In …

Here’s how the 2018 IECC shook out.

Right on schedule, the preliminary results from the 2018 IECC online vote were released by the International Code Council (ICC) on Tuesday, December 6. The verdicts largely mirrored the results of the public comment hearing held in late October. Of the 85 proposals considered, only 12% of the code change proposals had their outcome changed by the online vote.

The residential energy code’s most contested proposals did not see a reversal of fortune. What does that mean for the homebuilding industry?

Mechanical Equipment Tradeoff

Like the three previous iterations of the code, builders will not be allowed to trade off envelope insulation when using more efficient equipment. (Author’s note: Both sides would be wise to put pressure on DoE to update the NAECA requirements on equipment. Otherwise, we’ll be witnessing round 5 of this debate in spring 2019.)

Related Article: Three Issues to Watch

ERI Path

This section underwent major changes, but the online vote merely affirmed the actions taken at the public comment hearings. First, the ERI levels are going up slightly. (See table at the end of the article.)

Next, the use of on-site power generation determines the prescriptive envelope backstop. If renewables are used, the 2015 IECC prescriptive requirements must be met. If renewables are not used, then the existing 2009 IECC requirements remain the backstop.

RESNET 301 (with a twist) – RESNET/ICC/ANSI 301 will now be the only ERI methodology allowed in the ERI path. However, if the project has to adhere to the IRC, then the ventilation rates from the 2018 IRC (which mirror ASHRAE 62.2-2010) are to be used. Currently, RESNET 301 references the ASHRAE 62.2-2013 rates, though it has been stated that RESNET 301 could change in order to be congruent with the IECC.

Related Article: The New ERI Path

Online Upsets

Here’s a look at a few of the code change proposals who saw their fate changed by the online vote.

  • Appendix RA, “Recommended Procedure for Worst Case Testing of Atmospheric Venting Systems Under R402.4 or R405 Conditions” was ultimately removed from the code, after initially being retained.
  • The addition of a definition for grid-interactive electric storage systems was accepted at the public comment hearing after the proponent made a committee-recommended correction to an accompanying table, only to see that decision overturned by the online vote.
  • An exception to allow individual wall framing cavities, in compliance with the IMC, for transfer air between two spaces on the same level was at first added, but the online voters disagreed with those at the hearing and kept the exception out of the code.
  • The duct leakage testing portion of RESNET/ICC/ANSI 380, a standard for testing airtightness, was prevented from entering the code by the online voting community, which differed from the opinions of the public comment hearing participants.
  • Cross-laminated timber was denied entry into the mass wall definition.
  • A cavity-only wall insulation option was added to the prescriptive table R402.1.2 for climate zones 6-8, and while it passed the public comment hearings, it did not pass the online vote.
  • An attempt was made to add Climate Zone 0 to Table R402.1.2 and Table R406.4 to be consistent with ASHRAE Standard 169-2013, Climatic Data for Building Design Standards, but the online voters rejected it.
  • A proposal to improve U-factors for fenestration in climate zones 3-8, which was supported by both the energy-efficiency community and the WDMA, was approved at the hearings but disapproved by the online voters.

Finally, one proposal in the commercial energy code caught our eye. Specifically, CE175-16, which called for showerhead flow rates not to exceed 2.0 gpm at 80 psi. This proposal had two parts; one for commercial and one for residential. The commercial code proposal passed, while the residential proposal did not. However, this entire proposal has a sense of uncertainty hanging over it. According to the ICC:

This code change proposal addresses the scope and application of the International Energy Code and the International Plumbing Code. The action taken at the Committee Action Hearing on this proposal coupled with the final action taken at the 2016 Public Comment Hearings and OGCV will be limited to an advisory recommendation to the ICC Board of Directors who will determine the final disposition on this proposed change in accordance with Section 1.3 of CP 28, which stipulates that the ICC Board of Directors determines the scope of the I-Codes.

Water Woes

The topic of water efficiency is a political football of sorts. It seems to be tossed around from the IPC to the IgCC to the IECC. Amazingly, this vital topic has never really found a home within the I-codes

It is our hope that the ICC Board will honor the action of its members by allowing the public comment hearing and online voting results to stand. It is certainly clear to those paying attention that more needs to be done to conserve and protect one of our planet’s most essential resources.

Table R406.4 (N1106.4)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maximum Energy Rating Index                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Climate Zone Energy Rating Index

Zone        Rating Index

1               57

2               57

3               57

4               62

5               61

6               61

7               58

8               58