Meeting the Stretch Energy Code

By Aliza Heeren, Marketing and High Performance Building Fellow

This January, the Massachusetts stretch energy code updated their energy efficiency standards from the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) to the 2015 IECC, and the Center for EcoTechnology’s high performance building team is here to help you navigate the updates. These changes will require builders working in any of the 180 stretch code towns in Massachusetts to meet much stricter energy standards; such as reducing the envelope leakage down to 3.0 air changes per hour, and building an energy efficient home with a Home Energy (HERS) index that is 55 or less. To learn more about the specific changes in the new code, you can visit our blog or attend one of our energy code trainings. Once you have a grasp on the changes made, it’s time to start thinking about how you are going to meet the changes in your upcoming projects.

We spoke with one of our home energy raters, John Saveson, to learn more about his experience so far helping builders meet the new code. John commented, “recently I’ve had a couple of houses that are subject to the updated stretch code, and in both cases they are going to have to make some energy efficiency upgrades compared to what they thought they were going to be doing.” Building homes to comply with the new stretch energy code is going to be a stretch for any builder who is not already focusing on high efficiency. In the past two years alone, CET’s high performance building team has worked with about 65 homes that would not meet the new stretch code because their HERS index was above 55, and about 45 homes that would not meet it because they were over three air changes per hour.

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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

Blandfordstretchcodemap

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
hitchcock-center-testing-4

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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