The International Code Council (ICC) launched its “Code on a Mission” challenge, which aims to have over a third of the U.S. population covered by the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) by the end of 2023.

To make this goal a reality, the ICC is challenging the building industry to update their building energy codes to meet or exceed the requirements of the 2021 IECC.

“Reducing society’s greenhouse gas emissions is no longer a ‘nice-to-do’ but rather a critical necessity, and governments, communities, and the building industry as a whole are increasingly recognizing the contributions of buildings,” says Ryan Colker, vice president of innovation at the ICC. “Luckily, modern and innovative model building codes like the IECC have already been developed to significantly curb emissions and help achieve zero-energy buildings. We urge national, state, and local governments to accept our challenge and members of the building industry to support code updates.”

Industry leaders, such as Architecture 2030, the Institute for Market Transformation, Energy Efficient Codes Coalition, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, National Electrical Manufacturers Association, and Responsible Energy Codes Alliance, have shown their support for the initiative.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its final determination July 21 that the residential provisions of the 2021 IECC provide a 9.4% improvement in energy use and an 8.7% improvement in carbon emissions over the 2018 IECC, saving homeowners an average of $2,320 over the life of a typical mortgage.

According to the ICC, some of the 2021 IECC improvements include:

  • Increased insulation requirements and reduced fenestration U-factors and solar heat gain coefficients for both residential and commercial provisions;
  • New mechanical ventilation testing and exterior lighting requirements for residential buildings;
  • Lower ERI path values and additional energy reduction requirements in the residential requirements;
  • Updated mechanical equipment efficiency requirements, new provisions for data centers and plant growth lighting, and increased lighting efficacy and decreased lighting power density requirements for commercial buildings; and
  • Zero-energy appendices for jurisdictions wishing to implement zero-energy building requirements today.

Since 2006, the IECC has provided an approximately 40% improvement in energy efficiency, meaning that residents in states and cities on older IECC editions would see greater savings.

Currently, per the DOE and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 14 states have adopted codes that are at least 20% less efficient than the current IECC, while another 10 states have no statewide energy code adopted.

“With the zero-energy building goals set forth by the U.S. administration for new construction by 2030 and 2050 for all buildings, it is imperative that national, state, and local governments incorporate energy codes to meet their greenhouse gas reduction objectives and align with these goals,” notes the press release. “Additionally, states and localities have set either greenhouse gas reduction goals or established zero-energy building targets that will require an alignment with modern energy codes.”