Believe it or not, your home pollutes twice as much as your car. Quite simply, homes are energy hogs. Incandescent lighting (that is left on), phantom energy usage, high tech electronics, poor building envelopes, and other items contribute to waste energy. Commercial buildings are just as bad. In fact, commercial buildings consume 40% of all energy used. So, if you want to make a dent in energy consumption and oil dependancy, improve the energy efficiency of our buildings. And, that is what North Carolina is attempting to do.
With the current edition of the NC Energy Conservation Code, now mandatory for all projects in North Carolina, the state is taking a giant leap forward. In theory, buildings constructed this year should perform 30% better than buildings constructed in 2004. This is accomplished several ways:
- Greater roof insulation requirements (e.g. minimum above-roof insulation in Raleigh goes from R-15 to R-30).
- Greater wall insulation requirements (e.g. minimum wall insulation in Raleigh goes from R-13 between metal studs to R-13 between studs AND another R-10 continuous outside of studs).
- Higher efficiency ratings for equipment (e.g. small heat pump efficiency goes from 10.0 SEER to 13.0 SEER)
- The Mechanical Engineer is now required to visit the job site, review the installation, and provide a “Statement of Compliance” to the Owner and Inspector prior to occupancy that the systems were installed properly and are working correctly, and that operations and maintenance manuals were provided to the owner.
- And many other enhancements.
One of the single greatest improvements to the Energy Conservation Code, and the one provision that the rest of the country is watching with great interest is Section 506: Additional Prescriptive Compliance Requireemnts. This section requires commercial buildings to comply with one additional requirement (we must choose one of the following and include it in the design of the project):
- More Efficient Mechanical Equipment (e.g. 15.0 SEER heat pumps instead of 13.0 SEER)
- Reduced Lighting Power Density (10% less than Code)
- Energy Recovery Ventilation Systems
- Higher Efficiency Service Water Heating
- On-Site Supply of Renewable Energy (3% of total building energy loads), or
- Automatic Daylighting Control System (for 30% of total floor area)
One of these must be incorporated into the project. Specific requirements about how to comply with each can be found in the Code.
The Code became mandatory in North Carolina on March 1st, 2012.