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New State Residential Energy Code on target for early 2015 implementation

The updated Minnesota Residential Energy Code is cruising through administrative procedures and is expected to take effect in early 2015, according to Don Sivigny, building codes rep and state energy specialist for the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI). The new code is based on the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), with some modifications, and is projected to provide energy and utility bill savings for homeowners.

“The feedback we’ve had from our committee has been very positive,” said Sivigny. “Builders are embracing the new code and homeowners are embracing it. And the utilities I’ve presented to seem happy with the results.”

The code was determined after soliciting the input of energy experts, building officials, builders, and more. The Residential Energy Code Committee included participation from the Association of Minnesota Building Officials, Minnesota Mechanical Contractors Association, Builders Association of the Twin Cities, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA), National Association of Home Builders, Builders Association of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Commerce, utility reps, and DLI.

Energy savings analyses
The new energy code will result in more efficient, healthier, and more comfortable homes in Minnesota. According to an economic potential analysis of the code by MEEA, the upgrades will result in annual statewide energy savings of over 880,000 MMBTU from building under the new vs. the old code, savings equivalent to the amount of energy used by almost 4,000 homes and utility bill savings of over $8 million annually for homeowners. For instance, a newly constructed 2,400 square-foot home in Minneapolis will use an average of 1,300 fewer kWh and 550 fewer therms per year if built to the 2012 IECC (and modifications), compared to the current energy code. The analysis notes that the average homeowner savings would be about $540 per year. A U.S. Department of Energy analysis found similar energy savings, said Sivigny.

Among some changes in the new code are:

  • Minimum wall insulation increases in R-Value from R-19 to R-21.
  • Blower door testing is required to ensure new homes are air tight and better ventilated.
  • More efficient fenestration of windows, with a U-factor upgrade from .35 to .32.
  • Exhaust, supply, and return air ducts and plenums shall be insulated according to Table R403.2.1.

Sivigny and associate Scott Nelson will conduct seminars on the new codes September through December; dates to be determined--check for more information. For specifics on the Residential Energy Code, see Minnesota Rules at Chapter 1322, Residential Energy Code.

The Minnesota Commercial Energy Code is close behind the residential process and is proposed to adopt IECC as well.