Energy Conservation Codes and Roofing: What You Need to Know

Most people know the important role that a roof serves to a home or building; it’s so much more than a simple covering. Of course the aesthetic appeal of a good roof adds immeasurable value, but beyond that, a good roof saves energy and money while making a building more efficient.

What many people might not realize is that the energy efficiency of roofing is mandated by codes that require minimum thermal insulation levels. These codes are related to energy conservation and are increasing regularly. They vary individually by state and region, but follow the guidelines of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which is determined by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The purpose of increasing them, of course, is for buildings to continue achieving greater levels of energy efficiency, which is beneficial for a number of reasons. The DOE’s goal is a 30% improvement in energy efficiency compared to the previous version.

The IECC is updated every three years and the current edition in effect for our area is IECC 2012. For the Chicago area, the latest edition increased the R-value requirements—the thermal resistance value of insulation—fromR20 to R25.

Essentially, this means that existing roofs being renovated, and roofs that are built in new construction, must adhere to the latest R25 requirement. This pertains to all buildings, with the exception of detached one- and two-family dwelling and townhouses.

While the specific codes that are followed are determined by individual states and cities—with some cities currently on the 2012 edition — it’s important to not only note that you must follow your city’s current requirements (again, R25 for Chicago), but to remember that these codes change regularly and rapidly.

As each edition aims to improve efficiency over the last, we can safely assume that newer editions will increase the R-value for our city once again. While we don’t yet know what it will be, we do know that it will most likely increase, and it is important for building owners, builders, and maintenance staff to remain aware and current.

At Knickerbocker Roofing, we are always on top of the latest news, changes, rules, and regulations related to roofing. If you have any questions about the IECC codes—or anything else—feel free to contact us anytime.

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