Adobe Stock/Jandrie Lombard
Adobe Stock/Jandrie Lombard

Hawaii County is weighing energy code changes aimed to make construction more affordable and energy-efficient. A 40-page draft code is subject to public comment in the county and the code mirrors similar code changes that have been made across the state in the past 12 months, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports. The proposed code changes would apply to both new construction and major renovation projects.

The proposed code tracks many of the changes Maui and Kauai made while also including changes specific to Hawaii Island.

For example, the current requirement of fully insulated roofs would be replaced by a choice of at least one of these three options: Energy Star-compliant roof covering, radiant barrier or attic ventilation via a solar attic fan, or ridge or gable ventilation. That proposal was made after the Roofing Contractors of Hawaii reported the existing international code would double the cost of roof insulation.

The new version also allows jalousie windows, a popular and low-cost way to passively cool homes on the island. And it would make the blower door test, where an air-conditioned building is tested to see if it’s airtight, discretionary rather than mandatory.

The proposed code doesn’t prohibit the use of nonstandard materials or construction, such as in indigenous Hawaiian architecture. It gives the building code official discretion to require construction plans, research reports and tests prepared by a registered design professional in order to determine whether to allow lower energy standards.

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