The 2012 Seattle Energy Code, together with the entire suite of 2012 Seattle construction codes, has been approved by the City Council and Mayor, and will become mandatory for all permit applications on December 26, 2013. The Washington State and Seattle energy codes are amended versions of the 2012 IECC – the International Energy Conservation Code. The IECC is composed of two stand-alone codes in one book: “Residential Buildings,” which include single-family homes, duplexes, townhouses, and multi-family buildings up to 3 stories high, and “Commercial Buildings,” which include multifamily buildings taller than 3 stories above grade plane plus all non-residential buildings. By state law, Seattle does not amend the “residential building” technical requirements in the energy code, but we do revise the “commercial buildings” portion of the code to meet a higher energy efficiency standard.
DPD extends its thanks to the 80-plus volunteer experts who participated in the development of this code – with their input it became a much cleaner and more workable standard. Hard copies of the energy code will be printed and made available in early 2014. See the links to the State energy code and the Seattle amendments at the end of this article.
Most of the Seattle amendments simply carry existing Seattle code language forward to the 2012 code. However, there are also several new requirements, most of them geared towards making it easier for building managers and occupants to track and manage their own energy use. Significant new provisions include:
Target Performance Path – Section C402.1.5. This optional energy code compliance path allows the design team, contractor, and owner to determine the most effective methods to achieve energy efficiency. Rather than complying with all the details of the Seattle Energy Code, designers of several common building types will be permitted to submit energy models demonstrating that their proposed buildings will meet specific energy use targets. Subsequently, the building must operate within that predicted energy use level for a full year after occupancy. This is the first such code in the nation.
Enhanced Commissioning – Section C408. Applicants must submit a commissioning plan with the permit application. Owners must also obtain a separate “Commissioning Permit” before the Certificate of Occupancy is issued, to cover any delayed testing or correction of deficiencies. This permit will be inexpensive and available online. In addition, potential conflicts of interest between the commissioning agent and the contractor must be revealed.
Substantial Alterations – Section C101.4.7. Partial energy code compliance will be required for most “substantial alterations” projects. Existing buildings undergoing substantial alterations will be required to meet a certain degree of energy performance, using one of several compliance paths. Landmark buildings have special exemptions.
Renewable Energy and “Solar-Ready” roof – Section C410. Cuts the required size of renewable energy (generally photovoltaic) systems in half and adds new compliance alternatives. In addition, most new low-rise buildings must designate a clear rooftop “solar zone” for future solar energy arrays.
Metering – Section C409. Seattle’s energy metering requirements are retained in the revised State code format. Application of the code to existing buildings has been simplified. In addition, electrical sub-metering dashboards are required for full-floor tenant improvement projects in new and existing buildings.
Plug load controls – Section C405.14. Half of all general-purpose electrical outlets in office and classroom spaces will be controlled by occupancy sensors or automatic time clock controls, so that desk lamps, computer monitors and other non-essential equipment plugged into the controlled outlets will be turned completely off during non-use hours.
Each of these changes confronts a significant aspect of energy waste in buildings, and tools are provided for facility operators and occupants to run truly high-performance buildings. The code also begins the gradual process of upgrading the energy performance of Seattle’s existing building stock.
Prior to publication of hard copies of the code, you can download a copy of the 2012 Energy Code that includes the Seattle amendments to the 2012 Washington State Energy Code. Most of the document consists of changes to the “Commercial Buildings” portion of the energy code. Changes to the Appendix chapters begin on Page 110, and changes to the administrative provisions for “Residential Buildings” begin on page 135.
The 2012 Washington State Energy Code itself is available on the State Building Code Council website using the following three links – Commercial Provisions, Residential Provisions, Appendix Chapters.
The Seattle Chapter of AIA will offer a half-day Seattle Energy Code seminar on the morning of November 12th. See AIA’s calendar page (http://www.aiaseattle.org/node/8438) for registration after October 15.