The minimum state-mandated code for commercial and industrial buildings is the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code.
Today's energy codes come in two basic formats, prescriptive and performance. A possible third format, outcome-based, has begun to pique the interest of the building community.
A Prescriptive path is a fast, definitive, and conservative approach to code compliance. Materials and equipment must meet a certain levels of stringency, which are quantified in tables. These tables list the minimum and maximum requirements for the R- and U-values of materials, the allowable watts per square foot of lighting systems, and the minimum energy efficiencies required of mechanical systems. This path dictates specific requirements that must be met, but does not account for potentially energy saving features like window orientation.
Performance-based codes are designed to achieve particular results, rather than meeting prescribed requirements for individual building components. Performance paths typically are based on the anticipated results from application of the prescriptive path. This path is useful when quantifying non-traditional building features such as passive solar and photovoltaic technology. Performance-based approaches use an established baseline measurement from which certain systems must perform. This path requires more detail regarding building design, materials, and systems; however is a more flexible approach than the prescriptive path. Such an approach is particularly desirable for larger buildings, as it provides opportunities for trade-offs across energy-influencing systems to come up with the most cost-effective means for achieving compliance. Performance-based codes are technology neutral, thus enabling quicker incorporation of energy saving technologies and practices into the marketplace.
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