A Small Addition Faces A Tougher Energy Code
Energy regs on airtightness, insulation, and mechanical systems mean big changes — even for small buildings.
Synopsis: James Doman, a 20-year veteran contractor, details his first project under the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC), which includes the complete provisions of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Maryland, where Doman lives and works, was the first state to adopt these new standards. His article, “A Small Addition Faces a Tougher Energy Code,” provides a valuable window into these new standards in action. The core concerns of energy regulation are airtightness, insulation, and mechanical systems. The idea is to create as measurably efficient a home as possible. For example, to determine the size of heating and cooling equipment, the permit process stipulates “Manual J” calculations must be performed by a qualified HVAC designer. In the end, the contractor must sign off on the application, attesting that the entire building design satisfies the requirements of the 2012 IECC—new standards that are being steadily adopted throughout the U.S.
In early 2012, the owners of a small Cape-style home in Silver Spring, Md., contacted me about enlarging their kitchen, adding a screened-in porch, and creating a home office. The project was not particularly daunting in its design or details, but it was my first project under the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC), which made me a little nervous. Maryland, where I live and work, was the first state to adopt the 2012 version of the IRC, which includes all the provisions of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).
The IECC provisions, which are intended to improve the energy performance of new and remodeled homes, are the most dramatic code changes I’ve seen in the 20 years I’ve been a contractor. So far, seven additional states have adopted the 2012 IRC, and more are expected to sign on within a year or two.
So what’s new?
Increased insulation, greater attention to air-sealing, and better-performing…