On December 5, Vermont finalized an update to its Residential and Commercial Building Energy Standards (RBES and CBES), thereby becoming the first state in the country to adopt* a building energy code based on the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (2015 IECC). The 2015 IECC is the newest and most efficient version of the IECC, a model code used by the vast majority of the country (including every state in NEEP’s region).
The 2015 Vermont RBES and CBES will become effective March 1, 2015. By updating its code, Vermont will require significant energy efficiency improvements for its new buildings as well as major renovations of existing buildings. The state’s commercial buildings will reap the largest benefit from this code update, as new buildings will be required to use roughly 20 percent less energy than those built under the current code, which was adopted in 2011.
The Vermont Building Energy Standards Update team, comprised of the state Public Service Department and a robust contractor team, has been working diligently since the 2015 IECC was finalized last fall to adapt the code to construction activity in the state (including, for example, the development of specific requirements for log homes). The Update team also engaged stakeholders early and often in this process, soliciting feedback through two preliminary webinars this past winter, three open stakeholder workshops in the spring, and two public commenting periods on the draft regulations in the fall.
In addition to the two base codes (RBES and CBES), the Update team has been working to develop Vermont’s first Stretch Code, an appendix that adopting municipalities and Act250 projects can use to “stretch” beyond the regular building energy code to deliver additional building energy efficiency. The Update team completed the Residential Stretch Code (see 2015 RBES Section R407), though its effective date was delayed until December 1, 2015 to allow for additional stakeholder discussion. The Public Service Department is continuing work on a Commercial Stretch Code as well as finalizing state energy codebooks/handbooks and training materials.
NEEP applauds the Vermont Public Service Department for recognizing energy codes as a cost effective source of long-term energy savings and for realizing their aggressive target adoption date. For more information see the Vermont Building Energy Code Update page or contact Kevin Rose.
*Note: Maryland's 2015 IECC adoption becomes effective January 1, 2015, so while Vermont is the first state where the 2015 IECC was adopted, Maryland is the first state where it will be enforced.