Readers of this blog have already heard about the new Green Building codes, but there are new versions in the works, both of the energy code standard ASHRAE/IES 90.1, and of the International Conservation Code (IECC). What will these codes look like, and how will they affect the work of architectural lighting designers?
The 2010 version of ASHRAE/IES 90.1 will be published this fall. Standard 90.1 is the benchmark model energy code. Although rarely adopted directly as code, it is an alternative path for IECC compliance; it’s also the energy performance reference for both the US Department of Energy and the LEED rating systems, and is highly influential, like California’s Title 24, as a trendsetter.
ASHRAE’s goal for the 2010 version of 90.1 is to be 30% more stringent than the 2004 version. Standard 90.1-2010 will have lighting power allowances that are significantly lower than the 2004 and 2007 versions. Additionally, there will be many new controls requirements such as mandatory use of occupancy sensors in some spaces, incentives for daylight responsive controls, exterior lighting after-hours shut-off, and controls commissioning requirements, among other things.
The IECC is currently in the middle of its three-year development cycle. IECC-2012 will be published in April 2011. The goal of the Department of Energy and other stakeholders in IECC development is for IECC-2012 to be 30% more stringent than the 2006 version. It’s a little early to know for sure what will be in the next version, but expect reduced power allowances, and the addition of a space-by-space method for determining lighting power densities. Another concept that’s been proposed is the “Additional Efficiency Package Options”. To comply, the project will have to pick one option from a menu of energy-efficiency provisions like more efficient mechanical equipment, onsite renewable energy, or reduced lighting power allowances.
But here’s the thing to keep in mind: even though these new standards will be published soon, they don’t become code until they are adopted by individual states. By federal law, the DOE must evaluate each new version of 90.1 to determine if it is more efficient than the previous version (and because IECC offers 90.1 as an alternative compliance path, it piggybacks on the DOE determination). If the standard is found to be more efficient (and it will be), states are required to adopt an equally stringent code within two years.
But, enforcing this provision and getting the states to adopt the latest code is easier said than done. Currently, only ten states have adopted the most recent standard, IECC-2009/90.1-2007. At the other end, eleven states have either no statewide energy code at all, or are using standards older than 90.1-1999. The remaining states use something in between. This lag is typical, but I expect it will decrease, given the global push to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. If states follow the example of my home state of Massachusetts, then code lag will be very short in the future. Last year, Massachusetts not only adopted IECC-2009, but wrote into law that newer versions of the IECC will automatically become code soon after publication.
One school of thought says that these new standards will be overly stringent and will make it impossible for designers to produce quality results. I don’t agree with this opinion. Through my work as Chairman of the IALD Energy and Sustainability Committee, I’m pretty familiar with what is likely to be in these standards. We’ve been working hard to make sure that the codes are as aggressive as possible, but without prohibiting quality design. I believe that the new standards will only codify what any responsible designer should already be doing to reduce the negative environmental impact of their design. And, I do not think that they will prevent us from producing effective, comfortable, and beautiful spaces.
Yes, it will be harder. The “cushion” will be gone; we will have to be very careful with our use of energy in order to meet code. Competency in lighting design will require deep knowledge of code requirements, the skill to get the most out of limited power budgets, and expertise in lighting controls technology and system design.
Image Credit: D-32