Pennsylvania updates energy building codes

Pennsylvania updates energy building codes

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In May 2018 Pennsylvania updated its building codes for commercial and residential construction to the 2015 model International Energy Conservation Code, while also incorporating some elements of the 2018 code.

Lauren Urbanek, senior energy policy advocate, Energy & Transportation program for the Natural Resources Defense Council, reports the changes will significantly reduce energy usage for new buildings.

In an NRDC blog post, she wrote:

Updating the energy code is wildly cost-effective, both for Pennsylvania and nationwide. A Pennsylvania-specific analysis done by the U.S. Department of Energy found that on average, Pennsylvanians in homes built to the 2015 energy code will save more than $550 in energy costs in the first year alone, as compared to homes built to the 2009 code. That’s massive, and those are savings that persist year over year, keeping money in homeowners’ pockets. Even when accounting for the increased costs for builders to install efficiency measures, cash flows are positive for homeowners right away, and any upfront cost will be recouped through energy savings in about three years.

Energy codes are different than fire or structural codes but are often adopted simultaneously. The energy codes regulate a building’s energy efficiency by specifying minimum levels of insulation, efficient lighting, air sealing, and other energy-related building components. The model energy code is developed and updated every three years to integrate advances in technology, but it’s up to individual municipalities or states to adopt the updated version, she wrote.

Homes built to the 2015 model residential energy code will be about 25 percent more efficient than the 2009 code. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that over a 30 year period, the energy bills in a home built to the 2015 code in Pennsylvania will be more than $8,100 lower than in a home built to the 2009 code!

Commercial buildings will save energy as well. The DOE’s analysis found that construction costs for commercial buildings in Pennsylvania will be lower for some types of building due to requirements for fewer lighting fixtures and the use of smaller HVAC units due to lower heating and cooling loads. Under the new code, buildings may cost less to build and less to operate.

Builders in Pennsylvania will be required to start following the new codes on October 1.


Topics: Certifications, Energy Audit / Energy Management, Healthy & Comfortable Buildings, Sustainable Trends and Statistics, Thermal Envelope - Building Envelope

Companies: U.S. Department of Energy

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