The energy code in the Dallas / Fort Worth area is changing to the 2015 IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) this year. This change will affect residential and commercial construction in a significant way and increase the cost of construction across the state of Texas.

The Dallas Energy code regulates all construction materials, assemblies and that use or all energy transfer through it such as walls, ceiling, foundations, Windows, doors heating and air conditioning, HVAC duct work, water heaters, lights, pools, spas and appliances. Each city is mandated by state law to adopt the 2015 IECC before September 1st 2016. The transition has already begun with Carrollton adopting the 2015 IECC January 1st 2016. South lake becomes the second municipality with their form adoption on May 1st 2016.

Construction projects are assigned to an energy code when it is permitted . If your project was permitted under an older energy code, then you can download one of our handouts for the 2009 or 2012 IECC and move on to other pages for more information. If you are planning a project or are in the construction industry, then keep reading because your world is changing.

Dallas is a dominate player in setting construction codes and standards in the DFW area. The smaller municipalities have been able to keep up with the energy codes changes by adopting the 2012 IECC so the changes in those cities will not be as dramatic. The North Texas Council of Government has played a major role is standardizing the energy code across the DFW area. Regardless, things are changing for everyone.

The energy code is based on the concept of the building envelope. This is the interior edge of the insulative surface. When the 2012 IECC was adopted the R-value of the walls and ceilings changed and that required the wall construction to change. R-13 insulation fits in a 2×4 wall. The R-value changed to R-20 which means a R-13 cavity fill insulation + R-5 continuous insulation on the exterior, or you could go with R-19 insulation in a 2×6 wall + some slight insulative material such as Sheetrock or wall board sheathing. Ceiling insulation changed from R-30 to R-38, but more importantly the acceptable minimum ceiling insulation value changed from R-21 to R-30 in small limited areas such as below the attic HVAC platform or vaulted ceilings. This means that 2×6 ceiling joist and rafters will have to change.

Insulation has different R values per inch so you can still keep the same construction materials and use a different insulation, but that comes at a price. Use the Insulation chart to help you choose an insulation that can work for your application.

There are other changes, but integration of the energy code into the permitting and construction process is paramount. As the energy code progressed from one version to another, it also grew in complexity. Years ago, the prescriptive¬† path¬† was the only way to comply with the energy code. As the subtle effluence X between one construction method and another, or one building material and another were better understood, it became possible to use report software to allow for the performance of the finished project to perform as efficiently as a project that had followed a prescriptive path. That performance path has expanding into three separate paths that include an increasing list of materials and components that can used in the project to allow it to perform as if the house was based on a prescriptive approach. These three paths are the Total UA, Performance and Energy Reference Index (ERI). Now producing an Energy Report at the permitting phase is a common requirement to show you “Recipe” how this project will meet the new energy code.

Use the following link to take you to our new 2015 IECC energy code handout to help you see the requirement for your project. Keep in mind that you only have to update those components that you disturb in you construction. An occupancy change can require numerous changes. New construction has to comply from the beginning. Go to our FAQ page for more information.