Innovation and Technology Drive Proposed Changes to International Energy Conservation Code

Innovation and Technology Drive Proposed Changes to International Energy Conservation Code

This piece was originally published in the November/December 2019 issue of electroindustry.

Bryan P. Holland, Southern Region Field Representative, NEMA

Energy conservation, efficiency, and sustainability have become fundamental considerations in the building environment. The effective use and conservation of energy  for a building no longer take a back seat to code requirements related to life and fire safety. This change is due to advancements in technology being incorporated into the development of national energy codes.

Evidence of this can be found in the development of the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code, where many proposed changes are driven by innovation and technology. Below are several of the highlighted changes that are currently under consideration:

Residential Occupancies

Residential lighting systems consume a considerable amount of the total energy used in a dwelling. To reduce this consumption, progressive light source efficacy and control requirements are being proposed. The proposals include exterior lighting. Interior lighting controls, electric-ready features, and EV-ready provisions are also under consideration.

Commercial Occupancies

Commercial lighting and lighting controls have been a major focus during this code development cycle. Improvements to the code related to lighting include:

  • Reduced lighting power densities (LPDs) permitted for both interior and exterior spaces of a building
  • New requirements for lighting dedicated to plant growth and maintenance
  • Daylight-responsive control enhancements and clarification
  • New requirements for parking garage lighting controls
  • Revisions related to occupant sensor control, time-switch control, and light-reduction control

A software platform that converts data provided by sensors and devices to automatically identify faults in building systems and provides a prioritized list of actionable resolutions based on cost comfort, and maintenance impact—called a “fault detection and diagnostics system”—will be incorporated into the code. This advanced technology will be mandatory for buildings having a gross conditioned floor area of 100,000 square feet or more or can be installed to achieve additional energy-efficiency credits when the system is not required by the code.

Automatic receptacle control and energy monitoring requirements similar to what is required in ASHRAE Standard 90.1 Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings will be added to the code as mandatory requirements or possibly as two separate options to achieve additional energy- efficiency credits.

New requirements for “electric vehicle-capable” and “EV-ready” provisions have been proposed for inclusion as a mandatory requirement of the code or as an option to achieve additional energy- efficiency credits. Every qualifying parking lot or parking garage will be required to provide a certain number of EV-capable and EV-ready spaces. An EV-capable space is one that provides electrical panel capacity and space, and includes the installation of raceways to support the electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). An EV-ready space is one that is provided with a dedicated branch circuit that terminates at a receptacle, junction box, or the EVSE.

The 2021 International Energy Conservation Code will also begin to consider energy production and energy storage systems (ESS) as two methods to properly conserve and effectively use electrical energy. This includes on-site or off-site solar photovoltaic energy and other renewable energy sources and the use of ESS controlled by an energy management system and programmed to shift the load from on-peak to off-peak time schedules based on energy generation demands.

Innovation and technology will be the driving force in real and sustainable energy reduction, conservation, and effective use of electricity in the built environment. Zero-energy, carbon-neutral, and other progressive energy policies will heavily rely on the innovation and technology developed by the electroindustry. NEMA and our Member companies will continue to be a driver of energy- efficiency and conservation solutions. ei

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