Embracing New Standards of Energy Efficiency

According to one study, about 48% of all energy produced in the U.S. goes toward heating, cooling, and providing power to buildings. The use of more efficient building materials, adopting sustainable construction practices, and installing more efficient building systems has the potential to significantly reduce energy consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

Here in Illinois, a new statewide building energy code took effect Jan. 1, and its intent is to save energy through making the building’s “envelope” tighter. The codes come from an organization called the International Code Council, whose International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) spells out the technical requirements for building design and construction.

The impact of adopting these standards is significant, particularly on new construction. Higher, more stringent standards for greater thermal value insulation will minimize the loss of heated or cooled air, putting less strain on systems to maintain comfortable temperatures. Heating and cooling systems will not have to work as hard, which not only saves energy, but it also reduces utility bills. The changes also call for vapor barriers to encapsulate the entire building to further prevent air leakage as well as moisture ingress.

How these new energy saving guidelines can apply to retrofit projects still remains a question. Existing buildings, especially older ones, might not have adequate space or framework to accommodate all of these energy efficiency upgrades. As of now, work considered re-roofing or roof recovering is not subject to comply with all of the new provisions, and a timeline for enacting further changes to the code is still under development. Stay tuned to these pages for further updates!


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