So the biggest challenges are how to mitigate code officials' fear of change, and then determine a way to change their standard operating procedure so they can enforce the energy code as many as three years after the building is occupied.
There is no shortage of opinions on how enforcement would work. Nor is there a shortage of questions that need to be answered. Would a temporary certificate of occupancy be issued, which is then made permanent when the year of energy data is submitted and approved? What happens if the building didn't meet its pre-set targets? Would it be fined? Would the certificate be revoked? And perhaps most importantly, who would be responsible or liable — designers, owners, both?
One possibility experts suggest is to incentivize outcome-based compliance, making it sort of an intermediate step between the traditional prescriptive or performance compliance methods in place now and hard-and-fast outcome-based compliance at some point in the future. Owners could be given variable tax or utility rates, rebates on permitting fees, or other financial incentives they receive (or don't) if the building hits performance targets.
Burton thinks incentives are the way successful jurisdictions will implement outcome-based compliance. "Building owners will say, 'If I don't meet the requirements, I don't qualify for incentives. I can live with that, as opposed to my certificate of occupancy being pulled,'" he says. "I think (incentives) will be the way that is most powerful to everyone concerned."
The details of how outcome-based energy codes will be enforced will likely be up to each individual jurisdiction that allows the outcome-based option. But it's important to keep in mind that the outcome-based compliance path is designed to be optional, not mandatory. No one will have to do this.
"Building owners are looking for flexibility," says Colker. "They don't want prescriptive requirements. This provides flexibility."
If GEW 147-14 passes and is incorporated into the IgCC, an outcome-based compliance path will still be just one of three compliance options, which owners and designers will decide upon together at the beginning of a project. What's more, the IgCC is what's called an "overlay" code — which means that it works in conjunction with the base energy code to provide another option of compliance for those project teams wishing to push the envelope on sustainability goals. Therefore, the outcome-based compliance path within the IgCC then is essentially an option within an option. While that adds a touch of complexity to already complex energy codes, Edelson says that the advantages of implementing a compliance path guaranteed to save energy outweigh the possible challenges or as-yet unanswered questions.
In late August, the International Code Council (ICC), the American Institute of Architects, ASHRAE, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, and the U.S. Green Building Council announced a memorandum to collaborate on the development of standard 189.1, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), and LEED. Essentially, the IgCC, previously developed by ICC, and standard 189.1, previously developed by ASHRAE, will be combined into one regulatory tool.
Though details are still to be worked out, most experts hailed the collaboration, suggesting it will simplify both code development and code compliance, thereby making it possible for more widespread adoption of green codes. "The IgCC isn't adopted in many places yet, but this agreement could mean it's adopted in more places," says Cliff Majersik, executive director, Institute for Market Transformation.
"We think there will be a blending of the best features of (189.1 and IgCC)," says Jim Edelson, director of codes and policy for the New Buildings Institute. "We think this is a great opportunity to have outcome-based compliance folded into a broader code."
— Greg Zimmerman
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