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Michigan Moves Forward With Updated Statewide Residential Energy Code

The Michigan Residential Code Review Committee has voted to approve a new statewide building energy code for residential buildings, with an expected effective date of January 2016.  The new code is based on the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), with some modifications listed below.

MEEA has analyzed the economic potential of adopting the 2012 IECC, with the Michigan-specific modifications.  We have found that a newly constructed 2,400 square foot home in Detroit will use an average of 725 fewer kWh and 358 fewer therms per year if built to the 2012 IECC, as modified in Michigan, compared to the current energy code.  This would result in the average homeowner saving around $320 annually in utility bills.  It is important to note that these energy and cost savings will continue for the life of a building, which can be 50 – 100 years or more.

In addition to yielding economic benefits to homeowners, the proposed energy code will result in higher quality, healthier, and more comfortable buildings.  In particular, the requirement for buildings to have air tight enclosures and well-sealed duct systems, verified with diagnostic tests, will help realize these benefits to air quality.  A building enclosure that is tightly sealed, combined with a proper ventilation system, will prevent unwanted movement of air into and out of the building.  This reduces the load on space heating and cooling equipment and increases the indoor air quality of buildings.

The efficiency improvements in the new code include: a requirement for tight building enclosures, tighter duct systems, diagnostic testing to verify the air infiltration and duct leakage rates, higher efficiency windows and added crawl space insulation.  Importantly, all of these measures and their energy efficiency improvements are most easily incorporated during the design and initial construction phase.  It can be cost prohibitive to improve these measures in existing buildings, which is why it is crucial for these measures to be addressed in the building codes that regulate new construction.

Using the median number of one and two family residences built annually over the previous ten years in Michigan (12,915 homes[1]), multiplied by the potential annual energy savings per home in Detroit (37.1 MMBTU), there would be an annual statewide energy savings of around 480,000 MMBTU from building to the new 2012 energy code for residential buildings.  That is equivalent to the amount of energy used by almost 2,500 homes, and utility bill savings would be over $4 Million annually for homeowners.

In 2013, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs convened the Residential Code Review Committee to address the issue of updating the statewide energy code.  The committee was comprised of code officials and others in the state’s building industry to consider the entire International Residential Code, including Chapter 11 on Energy Efficiency.  MEEA supported this process by providing educational materials to the committee and attending several of the meetings when energy efficiency was on the agenda.  MEEA provided comparisons that showed differences between the current and proposed codes, energy savings analysis, and third party reports from Department of Energy.

Below are the amendments Michigan is planning to incorporate into the residential 2012 IECC:

  1. 1.      Wall Insulation (prescriptive table only):
  • Climate zones 6 and 7: R-20 or R-13 + 5

 

  1. 2.      Basement Insulation:
  • Climate zone 5: R – 10 / 13

 

  1. 3.      Ceiling Insulation:
  • Climate zone 5: R – 38

 

  1. 4.      U-factor Table (R402.1.3):
  • Modified to reflect changes to prescriptive table

 

  1. 5.       Air Leakage:
  • Requires blower door test to confirm air leakage of less than 4 ACH50 (prescriptive)

 

  1. 6.      Duct Leakage:
  • Requires duct leakage test when portion of duct system located outside conditioned space. Must meet one of the following leakage requirements:
    • o Postconstruction Test:

- Total Leakage: 4 CFM25 / 100 sq ft.

- Leakage to Outside: 4 CFM25 / 100 sq ft.

  • o Rough-in test:

- Total Leakage: 4 CFM25 / 100 sq ft.

 

MEEA Releases Residential Energy Efficiency Research

MEEA recently released a publication titled, “Evaluation of Missed Energy Saving Opportunity Based on Illinois Home Performance Program Field Data: Homeowner Selected Upgrades vs. Cost-Optimized Solutions.”  This research was conducted in partnership with the Department of Energy’s Building America program, which MEEA participates in as a team member of the cold-climate focused Partnership for Advanced Residential Retrofit. The study evaluates what is actually being done, within specific housing types, when homeowners choose to participate in the Illinois Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® (IHP) program, sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and administered by MEEA.

This publication expands on previous research and compares the measure packages installed during the first 800 IHP retrofits to the measure packages recommended as cost-optimal by Building Energy Optimization™ (BEopt) modeling software. The cost-optimal measure packages were identified in previous research for fifteen Chicagoland single family housing archetypes, called housing groups.

In this study, 800 IHP homes have been matched to one of these fifteen housing groups. The typically-installed measures for each housing group have been modeled using BEopt to estimate energy savings. For most housing groups, the differences between recommended and actually-installed measure packages are substantial. By comparing actual IHP retrofit measures to BEopt-recommended cost-optimal measures, missed savings opportunities are identified in some housing groups; in addition, valuable information is obtained regarding housing groups where IHP achieves greater savings than BEopt-modeled, cost-optimal recommendations.

Overall, the study finds not only that for some housing groups, the average IHP retrofit results in more energy savings than would result from cost-optimal, BEopt-recommended measure packages, but also that linking home categorization to standardized retrofit measure packages provides an opportunity to streamline the process for single family home energy retrofits and maximize both energy savings and cost-effectiveness.

This research is valuable to MEEA’s programs team because it represents an instance where primary data has been extracted from the program and analyzed to provide valuable feedback. To read the full report, please click here.

Minnesota Residential 2012 IECC Adoption

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) has completed the process to update the statewide building energy code for residential buildings.  The new code is based on the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), with some modifications listed below.

MEEA has analyzed the economic potential of adopting the 2012 IECC, with the Minnesota-specific modifications.  We have found that a newly constructed 2,400 square foot home in Minneapolis will use an average of 1,300 fewer kWh and 550 fewer therms per year if built to the 2012 IECC, as modified in Minnesota, compared to the current energy code.  This would result in the average homeowner saving around $540 annually in utility bills.  It is important to note that these energy and cost savings will continue for the life of a building, which can be 50 – 100 years or more.  The United States Department of Energy has also done an analysis with similar findings and concluded that a homeowner with a 30 year mortgage will realize a positive cash flow in the first year, after considering initial construction costs and annual utility bill savings.[1]

In addition to yielding economic benefits to homeowners, the proposed energy code will result in higher quality, healthier, and more comfortable buildings.  In particular, the requirement for buildings to have air tight enclosures and well-sealed duct systems, verified with diagnostic tests, will help realize these benefits to air quality.  A building enclosure that is tightly sealed, combined with a proper ventilation system, will prevent unwanted movement of air into and out of the building.  This reduces the load on space heating and cooling equipment and increases the indoor air quality of buildings.

Other efficiency improvements that are included in the proposed energy code are higher efficiency windows and added basement insulation.  Importantly, all of these measures and their energy efficiency improvements are most easily incorporated during the design and initial construction phase.  It can be cost prohibitive to improve these measures in existing buildings, which is why it is crucial for these measures to be addressed in the building codes that regulate new construction.

Using the average number of one and two family residences built annually over the previous ten years in Minnesota (14,956 homes[2]), multiplied by the potential annual energy savings per home in Minneapolis (59 MMBTU), there would be an annual statewide energy savings of over 880,000 MMBTU from building to the new 2012 energy code for residential buildings.  That is equivalent to the amount of energy used by almost 4,000 homes, and utility bill savings would be over $8 Million annually for homeowners.

In 2012, the Department of Labor and Industry convened a stakeholder working group to address the issue of updating the statewide energy code. MEEA participated in this process, along with many organizations in Minnesota’s construction industry. Homebuilders, manufacturers, energy experts, building officials, and utility companies were some of the groups that participated and offered input on how to update Minnesota’s statewide building energy code. The group eventually sent recommendations on what the new code should look like in order to yield the most cost-effective benefits in the form of energy and utility bill savings for Minnesota’s building owners and operators. The code that was adopted by the Department of Labor and Industry in April, 2014 was largely a result of this process.

Below are the modifications Minnesota made to the model version of the residential 2012 IECC:

1.      Wall Insulation (prescriptive table only):

  •  - Climate zone 6: R-20 or R-13 + 5
  •  - Climate zone 7: R-21

2.      Basement Insulation:

  •  - R-15 continuous, with minimum R-10 exterior
  •  - Additional requirements for walk-out basements
  •  - R-10 continuous exterior insulation if tested air leakage rate < 2.6 ACH50

3.      Duct Insulation: Vapor retarder required for unconditioned spaces

4.      Specific requirements for basement moisture mitigation

5.       Specific ventilation requirements (only allows balanced)

While the public comment period is over, there are still several procedural steps that must be completed to finalize the administrative rulemaking process.  DLI will be submitting the code to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), where it will be reviewed for a determination of reasonableness.  After that, the Governor’s office will be able to review the code, with a chance to veto.  Once those steps are completed, the code will be published in the state register and become effective 180 days later.

Learn about Deep Energy Retrofits at the 2014 BuildingChicago/Greening the Heartland Conference

A panel discussion in which Steve Kismohr, Senior Technical Manager from MEEA, assisted in organizing and will be a co-presenter was recently accepted to present at the 2014 BuildingChicago/Greening the Heartland Conference! The conference will take place at the end of September in Chicago and will bring together building professionals from around the Midwest.

The presentation will include a total of four panelists, including Henry Kosarzycki from the State of WI and AIA National Director, Tate Walker from Energy Center of Wisconsin, and Kurt Zimmerman from Zimmerman Architectural Studios (ZAS), as well as Mr. Kismohr. The panel is entitled, “Diving into Deep Energy Retrofits: A Holistic Approach to Greater Energy Savings.”  The same group presented during a half day workshop on Deep Energy Retrofits for members of AIA WI in April to great success.

Inspired by the publication, “Deep Energy Retrofits:  An Emerging Opportunity,” co-published by the American Institute of Architects and Rocky Mountain Institute, this panel will highlight both the opportunities available and best practices existing building owners can follow to achieve significant energy use savings within existing buildings. The discussion will speak to the opportunities of deep energy retrofits (DER) – renovations of existing buildings which have the goal of achieving greater than 50% energy savings.

The outline of the panel discussion will focus on the process of completing a Deep Energy Retrofit:  acquiring and compiling an existing building’s energy use data (aka the process of benchmarking), analyzing the building’s current equipment, processes and patterns of use (an energy audit), and finally, using an integrated team of architects, engineers, financiers, and energy modelers to greatly reduce the building’s energy use – sometimes by greater than 50% (goal setting, analysis, and project development). The presentation will conclude with Kurt Zimmerman demonstrating how this process was incorporated into the build-out/extensive remodel of the ZAS office (offered as a case study).

This panel takes the idea of building energy benchmarking, as is currently required in the cities of Chicago, Minneapolis and under development in other Midwest cities, and demonstrates how the information gathered in these processes can be utilized to achieve significant building energy use savings when applied in a holistic manner.

For more information on whole-building energy usage data, benchmarking, and data disclosure, please contact Steve Kismohr, MEEA’s Sr. Technical Manager at skismohr@mwalliance.org or 312.784.7257.

U.S. EPA Releases Clean Power Plan Proposal

On June 2, the U.S. EPA released a proposed rule to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. The Clean Power Plan proposal sets state-specific goals to be met by 2030 and provides guidelines for states to develop plans, building on the work states are already doing to reduce carbon pollution.  By 2030, the EPA expects to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by 30% nationwide below 2005 levels.  In order to meet that target, this proposal allows states to work individually or in regional groups to meet their respective goals while including flexibility in compliance options.

Energy efficiency is described as part of the best system for emission reduction, including supply-side and demand-side energy efficiency improvements.  MEEA supports the inclusion of energy efficiency as a compliance option, and will continue to provide a forum for discussion and education surrounding the proposed rule, and act as a technical resource for our diverse membership.

The proposal includes a timeline for states to follow to meet their respective goals:

  • June 30, 2016:  All states submit initial or complete plans
  • June 20, 2017:  Deadline to submit individual state plans eligible for one-year extension, and progress report for multi-state plans
  • June 30, 2018:  Deadline to submit multi-state plans

The EPA is accepting public comment for 120 days after publication in the Federal Register and will hold four public hearings the week of July 28 in Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. To learn more or submit comments, click here.

MEEA hosted a panel discussion on the regulation of power plants through Section 111(d) & (b) of the Clean Air Act and the role of energy efficiency as a compliance option at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Membership. The panel presentation from the meeting on this topic are available here.

Passage of SB 310 and MEEA Energy Efficiency Expo

MEEA hosted the Ohio Energy Efficiency Expo on Wednesday, May 14th at the Statehouse in Columbus. The event included 20 exhibitors from a variety of businesses operating in Ohio, from industrial companies, to high tech manufacturers, to consulting services.  Exhibitors and speakers highlighted the value of energy efficiency, and attendees learned firsthand the impact that the energy efficiency industry has on the state’s economy.

The expo gave a voice to the business community in Ohio that has created jobs and contributed to economic growth since the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) was established with the 2008 passage of SB 221.  Energy efficiency programs have created thousands of jobs across the state and are saving billions for consumers and businesses. The businesses exhibiting at MEEA’s expo demonstrated the economic value of energy efficiency to the state of Ohio.

Thank you to all MEEA members and allies who helped to make this expo a success.  Follow this link to review the event materials, including media coverage and exhibitor descriptions.

On May 28th, Senate Bill 310 (SB 310) passed through the Ohio state legislature. SB 310 effectively ends the requirement for new investment in energy efficiency over the next two years, allows for industrial customers to opt-out of paying for DSM programs in the future, and changes the way that savings are counted, making it easier for utilities to comply with targets. The bill is now awaiting action from Governor Kasich, who released a statement shortly after SB 310 passed indicating he planned to sign the bill into law.

MEEA will continue to track and report new developments as they arise in Ohio. If you have any questions about what occurred or would like to get more involved, please contact Ian Adams at iadams@mwalliance.org.

BOC Grads: Help with Chicago Benchmarking Ordinance Reporting

Sunday, June 1 2014 marks the first deadline for the City of Chicago’s Benchmarking Ordinance for facilities over 250,000 square feet to report their energy use. The ordinance’s intention is to assist building owners understand their current, annual energy consumption and be able to use information to make more informed management decisions. With the information building owners and managers obtain from their benchmarking data, they can implement energy efficiency measures to save money, attract more tenants, and potentially enhance the value of their property(s).

Graduates from the Building Operator Certification program are recognized by the City of Chicago as being eligible to provide benchmarking services and collect annual building energy use and submit it to the city. In addition, each building’s energy data must be verified by an in-house or third-party architect, an engineer, or other trained professional (BOC graduates included) the first year and every third year after first reporting.

First-time benchmarking, verification, and reporting deadlines will phase-in over three years, based on building size and sector, according to the following timeline:

June 1, 2014:  Municipal and commercial buildings ≥250,000 square feet

June 1, 2015:  Municipal and commercial buildings 50,000 – 250,000 square feet

June 1, 2015:  Residential buildings ≥250,000 square feet

June 1, 2016:  Residential buildings 50,000 – 250,000 square feet

MEEA will be collecting contact information for BOC graduates interested in providing these services in the City of Chicago. For more information on the Chicago Benchmarking Ordinance and how Building Operator Certification graduates can be more involved, contact Jennifer Allen, Programs Manager at (312) 784-7243 or jallen@mwalliance.org.

For more information on Building Operator Certification, visit www.boccentral.org.

Upcoming MEEA Policy Webinar: MEEA’s Updated Resource Guide for Policymakers

Thursday, June 5 – 1:30 to 2:30 pm CDT

Register: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/316665502

Join MEEA for a review of our recently released Energy Efficiency Policies, Programs, and Practices in the Midwest: A Resource Guide for Policymakers. The resource guide, originally released in 2012, has been updated as of May 2014 and provides a snapshot of energy efficiency policies across the Midwest and identifies best practices in the areas of program implementation and policy adoption.

During this webinar, MEEA staff will highlight the 2014 revisions made to the resource guide, including:

- Updates to the current state of energy efficiency policies throughout the region;
- New information on program and policy best practices;
- New topics related to building energy benchmarking; and
- Stakeholder engagement in policy development.

Detailed within the resource guide is Michigan Saves, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable financing solutions for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. Mary Templeton, Executive Director of Michigan Saves, will provide background on the organization along with an overview of the financing programs available to homeowners, businesses, and the public sector.

Better Buildings Challenge Grows by 1 Billion Square Feet

The U.S. Department of Energy announced on May 9 that Better Buildings Challenge partners are on track to meet their energy performance goals in their second year, saving approximately $100 million a year. 26 new partners and seven financial allies – including leading Midwest companies General Mills, Hilton Worldwide, and Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority – announced their commitment to improving energy efficiency across more than 1 billion square feet of their building space.

The Better Buildings Challenge was launched in February of 2011 by President Obama with the goal to make commercial and industrial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next 10 years, as well as to accelerate private sector investment in energy efficiency. Now, more than 190 companies, universities, school districts, multi-family housing organizations, as well as state and local governments are cutting energy waste, improving their bottom lines and sharing best practices across the U.S. building sector.

This year some partners within MEEA’s footprint – including Best Buy, Legrand, and Cummins – not only hit their energy saving goals but also pledged to continue to increase their energy efficiency. Four financial allies have surpassed their original financing commitment – including AFL-CIO, Citi, Energi, and Green Campus Partners – to assist other partners meet their goals.

In total, Better Buildings Challenge partners are deploying energy-efficiency projects at more than 9,000 facilities across the country. Of these, more than 2,100 buildings have improved energy efficiency by at least 20%, while another 4,500 have improved energy efficiency by at least 10%, compared to their baseline years. Better Buildings Challenge financial allies have also extended more than $1.7 billion in private financing for building-efficiency improvements reaching 97% of their collective goal.  Some of the new Partners announced who are based or operate in the Midwest Region, include by sector:

Industrial:

Hospitality and Multi-family Housing:

Retail:

  • Walmart commits 850 million square feet.
  • Whole Foods Market commits close to 13 million square feet.

New Financial Allies:

For a detailed progress report on the Better Buildings Challenge and to find out more about partners and their energy efficiency projects, visit: www.energy.gov/betterbuildingschallenge. For more information on whole-building energy usage data, benchmarking, and the Better Buildings Challenge, please contact Steve Kismohr, MEEA’s Sr. Technical Manager at skismohr@mwalliance.org or 312.784.7257.

 

BOC Illinois Maintenance Fair

Thursday, May 22, 2014
1:00-5:00pm CDT
Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
20 N. Wacker Dr, Suite 1301, Chicago, IL 60606

MEEA is hosting the Illinois BOC Credential Maintenance Fair on May 22 from 1:00-5:00pm. Join us for an afternoon of continued education and networking as we cover topics ranging from the new Benchmarking Ordinance in Chicago to electrical safety and innovative data logging. There will also be a short utility panel on the newest ways to save energy and money in your facility and new rebates for 2015. Participants will receive 3 Maintenance Points.

RSVP Here

Can’t make it in person? Join us for the technical webinars that afternoon:

Thursday, May 22, 2014
3:00-4:00pm CDT
“Using Data Loggers to Establish Baselines of Performance”

BOC instructor Chris Philbrick will provide examples of developing a data logger plan, frequency and deploying loggers and using the data to establish baselines for systems.

Register, attend webinar and take short quiz to receive 1 point for credential maintenance.

Thursday, May 22, 2014
4:00pm-5:00pm CDT
“Electrical Safety for Building Operators”

BOC Instructor Salvatore Cali will be giving a presentation on facilities-related electrical hazards, including: unsafe settings & conditions related to electrical shock, burns, arc blasts and hazard prevention systems and work procedures.

Register, attend webinar and take short quiz to receive 1 point for credential maintenance.

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