IgCC Improvements: Precendent or Procrastination?

Code hearings are a bit like baseball; long, slow, and fascinating. A baseball game may end 1-0, but there were 27 outs on each side, and whole lot more swings of the bat in a game where basically nothing happened.

With code hearings, hundreds of code change proposals are heard, argued, and decided on, sometimes without anything actually changing in the code. Sometimes provisions pass while everyone is trying to find the page. Sometimes an advocate lets off an overly personal attack in rebuttal. Sometimes no one knows what the code actually says...

A few things did happen during the IgCC hearings last week. Depending on your perspective, these will either be precedent setting changes that will inevitably find themselves into other codes that are in wider use, like the IECC or IPC, or an exercise in futility since the IgCC is not yet very widely used. I think the former, some think the latter.

So what potentially precedent setting changes were made last week? Here are a few, just from my perspective:

Demand Response. The DR provisions of the code were clarified to make them a whole lot more workable. As I said in my testimony in favor of this change, a building that cannot respond to a demand signal at 4 PM on a weekday in July is no more a "green" building than an empty building with the lights on at 1 AM.

Outcome Based Pathway. With this change, projects can elect to take an outcome-based approach to code compliance. This means the actual energy performance of the building will be tested instead of using assumptions and projections. I think it is about time that buildings are asked to set a target and meet it.

Birds? Yes birds. Bird-strike language was proposed for a building code for the first time that I can remember. While it was not approved, I expect this discussion to continue.

RECS. Like bird-strike, the use of Renewable Energy Credits by a building project was heavily discussed. I don't fully understand this issue yet from the policy perspective, but anytime regulatory worlds collide it is a big deal.

Meters, on everything. A provision to require water meters and submeters on residential and certain commercial space types was approved. Undeniably, this is a step in the right direction given the continuing scarcity of water in most places.

So how big a deal are these changes? We will see.