DPS updates stretch and energy efficiency building codes

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The Department of Public Safety has released changes to building codes for energy efficiency and the “stretch energy code.”
The amendments to regulations for the Massachusetts Building Code cover sections in Chapter 13.00: Energy Efficiency; Chapter 51.00: Massachusetts Residential Code (Chapter 11 and Appendix U); and Appendix 115.AA: Stretch Energy Code.
The updated code was published on Aug. 12 and went into effect immediately.
According to the Department of Public Safety, the changes update the regulations to the latest International Energy Conservation Code and ASHRAE energy standards to lower consumption requirements; modernize building envelope, ventilation, insulation systems and other measures; and promote savings through offsets and improved efficiency.
The MMA submitted comments on the draft regulations and expressed concerns that they could create additional costs for municipalities.
“Decisions regarding energy efficiency are best left up to individual communities and not prescribed in a one-size-fits-all manner,” the MMA wrote in a letter to the Department of Public Safety.
In some cases, the requirements in the draft amendments include updated lighting system controls and other energy efficiency building upgrades, such as to HVAC systems and water heaters.
One requirement that the MMA expressed concerns about was not included in the final amendments to the regulations. The MMA opposed a requirement in the energy efficiency code that would have required buildings to dedicate 4 percent of parking spaces for electric vehicles and provide sufficient charging capacity. The MMA requested an exemption for municipal and school parking lots.
Some 155 communities, accounting for 54 percent of the state’s population, are designated as Green Communities. Some of these communities have adopted the stretch energy code in order to meet the criteria to become a Green Community.
The Stretch Energy Code, added to the building code in 2009, uses provisions of the International Energy Conservation Code, according to the Department of Public Safety, and provides a more energy-efficient alternative to the standard energy provisions of the building code.