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STRETCH CODE - PART 2 of 2

May 24, 2012 4 min read

PART 2 of 2 

STRETCH CODE

what is it, when to use it, and how

 

Two weeks ago we started the conversation about our friend, Stretch Code Sam (see what I did there, I added Sam at the end to give the code a human like persona)  We talked about WHY our towns are choosing to adopt the code.  If you missed that post check it out HERE and HERE and HERE

Today we are going to look into what the stretch code is exactly and what it will mean to us today and in the future.

In essence the new code can be thought of as a up front cost for long time savings in energy costs.  It is estimated that construction costs to meet code will increase $3,000 for a typical single family home.  Generally speaking a household could make that money back in energy savings in 1 - 3 years depending on a households usage.  


Wowie wowie, how do we even go about following the code??

Great question!  A test of course!  You had to know that was coming.      

YOUR PROJECT PASSING THE CODE MEANS 1 OF 2 POSSIBILITIES: 
1) A Home Energy Rating System test (HERS)
OR

2) A prescriptive building option using the Energy Star Thermal Bypass checklist
 
1) HERS
HERS that just sounds dirty.  What is it?!  The HERS is a test parameter based on national standards that rates components of a project based on average energy needs and assigns them a value.  In short a computer program measures air leakage and decides if the products you have used are energy efficient enough.  Specifically products are required to be 35% more energy efficient than previous codes.  

How do I know if my products are energy efficient? Look for that ENERGY STAR sticker my man!  Truth be told we have been using energy efficient products for years.  The change here is that we need to TEST to prove we are using the products.  
 
How much is the test you ask?  Depending on the tester you contract costs are between $600 and $1,200 per single unit.  You can find an approved HERS test on the Energy Star Homes website

 
2) THE PRESCRIPTIVE OPTION option
This sounds like a trick right off the bat, what is this all about?  This scenario is based on the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC 2009) with an additional checklist.  This IECC 2009 is the same building code we have been subject to for years now.  The checklist is theEnergy Star Thermal Bypass checklist.  

This checklist acts as energy efficient best practices for building.  As the builder you would go around your project and literally check off the areas addressed in the checklist.  Most of the items on the form you have already been addressing.  

OK, now I know about both types of testing.  Which one matters to me?  In short both, but see bellow:

MUST FOLLOW HERS CODE
* Residential new construction
* Residential additions or remodeling
* Commercial new construction over 5,000 square feet


CAN FOLLOW PRESCRIPTIVE CODE
* Residential additions or remodeling

DOES NOT FOLLOW ANY NEW CODES
* Historic buildings
* Commercial construction under 5,000 square feet
* Commercial renovations or additions
* Supermarkets, laboratories, warehouses if under 40,000 square feet
* Other commercial buildings with unusual energy usage profiles
  

OK, OK, I get that there is a new code, but who is watching; wink wink?  The answer is your local building code official.  They are slated with reviewing the HERS and Thermal Bypass Checklists for compliance.  A HERS or Thermal Bypass Checklist must be completed and signed by both the building official and builder.  If this does not happen a home is considered to not have met the necessary requirements of the stretch code.    

OMG OMG OMG

So you are telling me that if I am replacing windows and using the prescriptive checklist that I need to check the entire house?!  NOOOO!!!!  You are only required to adhere to the stretch code for areas changed during your work.  The code is not to affect pre-standing products or attributes.  Breath easy my friend... 

What towns have the stretch code, who will, and who does not?

CURRENTLY FOLLOWING STRETCH CODE
GLOUCESTER
HAMILTON
SALEM
WENHAM
TOPSFIELD

CODE TO TAKE AFFECT JULY 1st
BEVERLY

NO CODE YET
ROCKPORT
ESSEX
IPSWICH
MANCHESTER
DANVERS
PEOBODY

So at the end of the day the stretch code means more up front building costs for far greater energy savings down the road.  In many cases the "new" parameters are not all that different from what we have been practicing.  There has been a HUGE energy efficient push across the entire industry for years.  Without even realizing it most of the windows, doors, and insulation we are installing already meet the requirements.  

The biggest challenge of this like any change is communication.  It is important that when bidding jobs that you communicate and budget for these changes.  What you do not want to have happen is to be standing there bearing these costs.  

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  We are together in these changes working to outfit homes with the necessary products and provide support when questions arise.  If you are looking for any more in depth information on the subject please be in touch with us.   

HELPFUL LINKS

Energy Star Thermal Bypass checklist
HERS TESTERS
For more information call GRAND BANKS 978-281-2421
Ryan Banks
Ryan Banks



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