New MA Energy Code Adopted: Here's what you need to know.

Massachusetts is the most progressive state in the US regarding energy and sustainability policy. For the eighth year in a row, the Bay State has been recognized by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) as number one in the nation according to its State Energy Efficiency Scorecard.

Massachusetts maintains its leadership through regular updates to codes and regulations regarding buildings and energy. These updates are driven in part by advocates in the Green Building community. At The Green Engineer, we support organizations like the USGBC Massachusetts, Climate Action Business Association, and Massachusetts Climate Action Network in their advocacy. Among other actions, in the last few months TGE’s founder and CEO, Chris Schaffner, has appeared on Beacon Hill and at Boston City Hall supporting urgent action on climate change and the elimination of fossil fuels.   

One major driver is our state Energy Code, which regulates energy efficiency in buildings. The current energy code for commercial building is the 9th Edition (IECC 2015/ASHRAE 90.1-2013), which went into effect in August 2016. Per the Green Communities Act of 2008, the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) is required to update the energy code every three years to be consistent with the most recent version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

Almost three years after the last energy code update, the BBRS has adopted an updated energy code, which will to go into effect on January 1st, 2020. We are currently in the concurrency period.  Projects that are planning to submit building permit applications after January 1, 2020, will be required to comply with the updated, more stringent, IECC 2018/ASHRAE 90.1-2016 with MA amendments. MSBA projects that submit ‘Scope & Budget Agreement (Module 5)’ on or after January 1, 2020 will also need to comply with the updated energy code.

If you have a Massachusetts project in the pipeline that is being designed to meet IECC 2015 and is targeting submission of the building permit application / Module 5 after 1/1/2020, then you should be aware of this change and should be designing your project to the new energy code with MA amendments.

Some of the major changes included in the updated energy code with MA amendments include requirements for PV-ready areas, EV charging equipment, reduced LPD, additional energy efficiency package options under C406.1,  and overall envelope compliance requirement. Overall the new code is about 8% more stringent on average than the old code.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, The Green Engineer is happy to help. To keep our clients well informed, we have developed several resources including an in-depth presentation outlining the key changes that will go into effect in January 2020.

By Ryan Montoni.

Ryan is a Sustainability Consultant at The Green Engineer.