According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is 30% more efficient than the 2006 IECC. Several segments of the 2012 code affect remodeling, including testing requirements for additions and higher efficiency values for walls, ceilings, and windows.

Though only Maryland has adopted the 2012 code (see map), some states have amended previous codes to include testing. For example, Georgia’s 2011 State Minimum Energy Code includes a blower door test requirement. According to the amendment, the blower door test for building envelope tightness applies only to additions, alterations, renovations, or repairs that affect all aspects of the building envelope.

Georgia code also requires duct testing, which was mandated by the 2009 IECC, but the 2012 IECC has more stringent efficiency requirements. Ted Miltiades, director of the Georgia state construction codes program says an addition that has new, separate ductwork from the existing house requires testing.

North Carolina received a grant from the DOE to improve its energy code, and the state committee’s goal was to improve the existing residential code (based on the 2006 IECC) by 30%. Though the state didn’t quite reach that goal, the new code includes a voluntary appendix called the High-Efficiency Residential Option (HERO) that includes measures that meet the original 30% improvement in efficiency goal. Many of the state’s utility companies have included those same provisions in their energy incentive programs, says R. Christopher Mathis, president of MC2 Mathis Consulting Co., in Asheville, N.C.

He says that, although the code is not clear about whether just the addition or the whole house has to meet the requirements of the new code, remodelers should build to HERO standards and use it as a marketing tool.

In Maryland, Montgomery County adopted the 2012 IECC, as mandated by the state, and began enforcing the testing requirements in September. It does not require a blower door test for the existing portion of a home, just the addition. “We feel the logistics for the contractor would be tough. They may have to spend as much money to update the existing house to comply,” says Montgomery County’s Steve Thomas, Permitting Services Manager/Residential Field Inspection, in Rockville, Md. For the duct leakage test, the county asks mechanical subcontractors to test and provide a certificate for new ducts before tying them into the existing system. 

Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.

Map Source: Building Codes Assistance Project