Building Energy Code Compliance

After previously discussing what building codes are, how they are developed, and how they are adopted, we now explore the final, and perhaps most important, stage of the building energy code cycle: compliance. Compliance is where “the rubber meets the road” for energy codes. Without it, no energy is saved, and all the work done during the development and adoption phases is for naught.


The legal obligation to comply with the energy code (meeting all the applicable requirements) rests squarely on the professionals who design and construct buildings. On the residential side, homes are often designed by a licensed builder or other design professional (although this can vary depending in the complexity and customization of the home). While the builder may ultimately carry responsibility for code compliance, many subcontractors and trades play critical roles in ensuring compliance with the energy code. For example, lighting requirements may fall to the electrician, and tightening residential envelopes can affect a broad range of trades—from the foundation, to framing and insulation contractors, and even to the painting or finishing crews. In commercial buildings, the design team typically includes an architect and engineer, and is responsible for ensuring compliance with the relatively more complex commercial energy code requirements, from building shell and envelope features, to the internal electrical and mechanical systems.

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