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COTE and the BEC: The Shifting Energy Code Landscape in Massachusetts and the Building Enclosure (Hybrid)

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    Knowledge Community



Architects who work in Massachusetts should be aware of recent changes to the Energy Code released in December 2022 by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). As part of the updated 10th edition of the Massachusetts Building Code, the new base Energy Code includes updates to the Stretch Energy Code as well as the addition of a second, more advanced tier of the Stretch Energy Code known as the Specialized Opt-In Stretch Code. These code changes are based on the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code with Amendments. Passive House is prominently incorporated into the new Massachusetts Energy Code requirements. Passive House certification is a requirement for multi-family residential buildings under the new Specialized Opt-in Code, and is a code compliance path option for all buildings. The performance of the enclosure and mechanical systems are explicitly linked and are primary elements that require careful attention to achieve energy targets.

Across all code compliance paths, there are new building enclosure, airtightness, and mechanical system requirements that are modeled on the demand reduction measures that are familiar to the Passive House community. These include a requirement for whole-building airtightness testing for all buildings, updated enclosure backstop requirements, thermal bridging accounting and R-value derating, and new, more specific building enclosure definitions.

Join Paul Ormond of Massachusetts DOER, one of the authors of the new energy code and Andrew Steingiser of RDH Building Science, who served on the Stretch Energy Technical Advisory Committee, responsible for amending the new code and defining new building enclosure requirements.