What You Need to Know About the New Massachusetts Energy Code

By Peggy MacLeod, Sales Representative, and Aliza Heeren, Marketing High Performance Building Fellow

As of January 1, 2017, the Massachusetts Energy Code has adopted stricter energy efficiency standards required for all new homes. The state base energy code transitioned from the 2012 International Energy Code (IECC) standards to the 2015 IECC with a few specific amendments for Massachusetts. In addition, the Massachusetts stretch energy code, which has been adopted by over 180 Massachusetts towns, made a huge leap from the 2009 IECC requirements to the 2015 IECC requirements. This stringent new standard asks a lot of building professionals, and the Center for EcoTechnology is available to help make the transition as seamless as possible. CET has years of experience in high performance building and has performed over 2,000 HERS ratings. CET experts are available to assist builders through IECC code trainings, consultations, and HERS services.

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Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code to Expand: What Does it Mean for You?

By Kevin Pink, Marketing and Development Specialist

Have you heard of the Massachusetts stretch energy code? Are you wondering what it is, and whether you need to think about it for new homes being built? Read on to expand your knowledge of stretch code, and what the coming changes mean for you!

Massachusetts has a base energy code that all buildings in the state must follow. It is based on the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)’s most current version and specifies certain standards that all building projects must achieve regarding their energy consumption.

The stretch code is an initiative adopted by many towns across Massachusetts requiring buildings to meet higher energy efficiency standards.

As of October 26, 2016, 186 Massachusetts cities and towns have adopted the stretch code- take a look at the map and list to see if your town is on it! As of January 1, 2017, twelve more towns in central and western MA will officially mandate the stretch code:

Agawam

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Charlton

Clarksburg

Erving

Fitchburg

Hawley

Plainfield

Southampton

Ware

Warren

Westfield

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CET and Commercial Building Diagnostic Testing

By Peggy MacLeod, Sales Representative
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CET’s Green Building department has played a significant part in the evolution of green building for the last 25 years.  As experts in energy efficiency and building performance, the department has promoted green building, educated the residential building community, and verified the performance of homes all over the region seeking energy code compliance ore certification by ENERGY STAR, LEED for Homes, or Passive House.

After performing thousands of diagnostic tests to establish levels of energy efficiency in homes, more recently CET’s Home Energy Raters have applied their diagnostic skills to commercial building renovations and new buildings targeting green designations or compliance to the building energy code.

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HERS Rating FAQ

By Aliza Heeren, Marking/Green Home Fellow

Q. I’ve been hearing about HERS ratings lately. What is a HERS rating?

A. HERS ratings are required for new construction projects and major renovations in any of the over 175 Massachusetts cities and towns that have adopted the stretch energy code. The HERS Index is a number that tells homeowners and home-buyers how energy efficient a home is, and how much they should expect to spend on heating and cooling costs. resnet_hers_index

The HERS rating that you receive is on an index ranging from 0 to 150, with the standard new home falling at 100, and a lower score indicating a more energy efficient home. So for example, if your home has a rating of 70, your home is 30% more efficient than the average home built today. To give some perspective, a home built in the 1950s would most likely receive a rating of 120 or 130.

The HERS Index is not only used as a tool for new home-buyers and homeowners who are renovating, but is also used as a tool in meeting energy reduction plans of many cities and towns in Massachusetts. Homes that are built today that are in one of the over 175 cities and towns in Massachusetts that follow the stretch energy code must have a HERS rating.  Currently in these stretch energy code towns, homes smaller than 3000 square feet must have a 70 HERS index or lower, and homes larger than 3000 square feet must have a HERS index of 65 or lower.  Starting with new homes permitted in January 2017 in stretch energy code towns, the requirement will be a HERS index of 55 or lower.  There are some exceptions to the HERS 55 index for homes with renewable energy systems, Passive Houses, and ENERGY STAR certified homes.

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The Ecofellow Experience: Blower Door Testing

By Aliza Heeren, Marketing and Green Homes EcoFellow      

Hi Everyone!img_1951

My name is Aliza and I am the Marketing and Green Homes EcoFellow.  Last week, I had the opportunity to shadow one of our Home Energy Raters, John Saveson, for a day of testing at the Leyden Woods affordable housing project.  The Center for Ecotechnology’s raters are working with Delphi Construction throughout the project to ensure that the new buildings are not only going to meet Massachusetts energy code, but also will meet their goal of becoming ENERGY STAR Certified multi-family homes.

Throughout my day on the construction site I learned about the extensive process of a Home Energy Rating.  In the planning stages of a high performance building project, the CET rater will meet with the developer to look at building plans and do an initial assessment of the efficiency of the home.  Once the building process is underway, the rater will check that every part of the home’s insulation is up to standard in order to ensure that the finished home will be as air tight and efficient as planned.

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