Efficient and Effective Construction Through Building Codes

This fire station roof assembly includes thermally efficient cross-ventilated non-structural composite insulation manufactured by Atlas Roofing and installed by Utah Tile & Roofing.   Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp

This fire station roof assembly includes thermally efficient cross-ventilated non-structural composite insulation manufactured by Atlas Roofing and installed by Utah Tile & Roofing. Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp

In a world where the bottom line is a critical concern in any construction project, conscientious design and roofing professionals look at the lifetime costs of a building instead of just the short-term construction outlay. Choices made during a building’s initial design and construction have long-term influence on the lifetime of its operation and maintenance. With so many building products and options available, building codes take on a vital role in guiding decisions about building quality, safety, and energy performance. These trusted benchmarks, compiled with input from a broad range of stakeholders, are designed to ensure that the best technologies, materials, and methods are used in construction.

Building Energy Codes 101

Model building energy codes are revised every three years to incorporate the latest research and ensure that new and existing buildings benefit from the methods and products that will produce the most value and safety over time. The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE set standards tailored to specific climate zones and include options to provide flexibility in choosing the methods and materials best suited to each project’s needs while nevertheless meeting the requirements. Without regular, incremental improvements to these codes, new buildings would be dated even before their construction begins.

Indeed, while some building features are straightforward to replace and upgrade over time, some of the most vital elements of building performance need to be “designed in” at the outset. Codes are designed to lock in savings during initial construction or major renovations to promote cost-effective design and construction practices. For example, roof replacement projects provide an opportunity to cost-effectively improve the overall energy efficiency performance of buildings.

Energy-efficient design strategies are helpful to all building owners, including government and municipal projects built with taxpayer funding. Pictured here is Fire Station #108 in Brighton, Utah. Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp.

One of the major benefits of building code updates in recent years is the focus on energy efficiency and resiliency. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety writes that, “Over the centuries, building codes have evolved from regulations stemming from tragic experiences to standards designed to prevent them.” With the ongoing effects of climate change, buildings are subjected to extremes of weather and temperature that challenge the performance of their systems. Most structures built over the previous century were not designed or constructed with energy efficiency in mind and suffer from poor insulation and dramatic thermal loss. Buildings account for over 40 percent of America’s total energy consumption, 74 percent of our electricity, and cause 40 percent of our greenhouse emissions. Implementing best practices for sustainable design and utilizing highly efficient building materials like insulation could save billions of dollars a year and improve the reliability of the electrical grid systems.

Energy-Efficient Roofing

A report prepared in 2009 by Bayer MaterialScience (now Covestro), “Energy and Environmental Impact Reduction Opportunities for Existing Buildings with Low-Slope Roofs,” determined that going from an R-12 insulation level (i.e., the average R-value of roofs on older buildings) to R-30 would pay for itself in energy savings in just 12 years with an average reduction in building energy use of 7 percent. Better roof insulation also saves money on equipment, since buildings with weaker envelopes require larger and costlier HVAC systems and future upgrades to HVAC equipment that is smaller and less expensive will always be limited by this constraint.

These savings are not only confined to new construction. In renovations, the removal and replacement of a roof membrane offers the best and most cost-effective opportunity to improve a building’s thermal envelope and better position that building for energy-efficiency upgrades down the road.

Energy Efficiency in Government Buildings

While these strategies are helpful to all building owners, they are especially important for government projects built with an increasingly tight supply of taxpayer dollars. Here is another place where the building codes provide a major assist. For federal commercial and multi-family high-rise residential buildings where the design process began after Nov. 6, 2016, agencies are required to design buildings to meet ASHRAE 90.1-2013 and, if life-cycle cost-effective, achieve energy consumption levels that are at least 30 percent below the levels of the ASHRAE 90.1-2013 baseline building. These savings are calculated by looking at the building envelope and energy consuming systems normally specified by ASHRAE 90.1 (such as space heating, space cooling, ventilation, service water heating, and lighting but not receptacle and process loads not covered by 90.1).

Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp.

Changes in the 2013 edition of ASHRAE 90.1 clarify the insulation requirements of various low-slope re-roofing activities. New definitions of “roof covering” (the topmost component of the roof assembly intended for weather resistance, fire classification, or appearance) and “roof recovering” (the process of installing an additional roof covering over an existing roof covering without removing the existing roof covering) were added and the exceptions to the R-value requirement for roof replacements were clarified to include only “roof recovering” and the “removal and replacement of a roof covering where there is existing insulation integral to or below the roof deck.” In all other instances, when a roof membrane is removed and replaced, the insulation must be brought up to current R-value requirements, which range from R-20 to R-35, depending on climate zone. In addition, the prescriptive R-value requirements for low-slope roofs under 90.1-2013, as compared to previous version (90.1-2010), are higher. For instance, in populous climate zones 4 and 5 the R-values for these roofs increased from R-20 to R-30.

The Department of Energy is preparing to start a rulemaking process to update the federal building energy standard baseline to the 90.1-2016 Standard, which will provide about an 8 percent improvement in energy cost savings compared to 90.1-2013. However, no changes were made to the R-values for low-slope roofs. Managers of federal buildings are working to comply with updated directives that impact new construction and building alterations, including:

  • “Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings”
  • GSA PBS-P100 “Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service”
  • DOD’s Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC).

The instructions in these publications coupled with Executive Order 13693, issued on March 15, 2015, and “Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings,” require new and existing federal buildings to adopt improved energy efficiency and “green building” attributes. New buildings are expected to “employ strategies that minimize energy usage” and existing ones must “seek to achieve optimal energy efficiency.” These directives require:

  • Regular benchmarking and reporting of building annual energy use intensity.
  • Annual 2.5 percent improvement in energy use intensity every year through the end of 2015.
  • All new buildings be designed to achieve net-zero energy use beginning in 2020.

Good Practice in Action

At the end of the day, the success of building codes in producing the cost-savings, weather-resiliency, and energy efficiency is determined by how they are adopted and enforced locally. If the most current codes were universally adopted and enforced,

Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp.

there would be no competitive advantage to inferior building construction practices. Incremental upgrades would provide a steady stream of work that would increase competitiveness for building professionals and suppliers. Updated job skills would increase market value for construction professionals and enable innovation in the construction sector and increased market share for innovative products and processes that would improve economies of scale and lower their cost differential.

Building codes provide a comprehensive and reliable standard that contribute to local economies and improve building performance. Knowledge of code requirements help designers and contractors deliver more value to their clients. Finally, a bit more of an investment during design and construction can yield significant savings in building operation and tangible benefits to the environment and economy of areas that adopt higher building standards.

Cool Roofs in Northern Climates Provide More Bang for the Buck Than We Thought

Electricity demand in Washington, D.C., plotted against daily high temperature. Source: Weather Underground, PJM Interconnection (PJME).

(Figure 1) Electricity demand in Washington, D.C., plotted against daily high temperature. Source: Weather Underground, PJM Interconnection (PJME).

The energy savings from cool, reflective, roofs have long made them the go-to roof choice in warmer and temperate climates here in the United States. Both ASHRAE and the International Energy Conservation Code have included roof surface reflectivity requirements for a number of years. About half of all new flat roofs installed in the country are highly reflective and in some product categories white options outsell dark ones by a substantial margin. It is hard to argue with the notion that, where it is warm, the roofs should be white. While the building-level impacts of cool roofs in cool climates has been covered in the past, very little has been written about the broader economic benefits of cooler buildings and cities. When we include the economic impacts of factors like improved health, air quality, and energy savings, the case for cool roofs in cool climates looks even better.

The Benefits of Cool Roofs Go Way Beyond the Building

The building-level impacts of cool roofs are a central part of the discussion about whether they should be used in cold climates. However, it is also important to recognize the substantial co-benefits that come from installing cool roofs in terms of healthier and more comfortable people, improved productivity, better air quality, and increased economic prosperity. While the economic benefits of cool roofs are substantial, they may not always be fully included in a building owner’s roof buying decision.

How much cooler could our cities become if we added more reflective roofs? In a comprehensive review on this topic, Santamouris 2012 found that when a global increase of the city’s albedo is considered, the expected mean decrease of the average ambient temperature is close to 0.5°F (0.3°C) per 0.1 increase in reflectivity, while the corresponding average decrease of the peak ambient temperature is close to 1.6°F (0.9°C). The cooling impact of reflective roofs in certain neighborhoods could be significantly better, though. A study of Chicago by Notre Dame University found that installing reflective roofs cooled city surfaces by around 3.5 to 5.5°F (2-3°C), but surfaces in the downtown core cooled by 12.5 to 14.5°F (7-8°C).

Cool Cities Are Energy Savers

We have started to better understand and quantify the impact in cities that are able to get a degree or two of cooling. The most obvious benefit is that cooler cities demand less energy on hot days. The graph in Figure 1 plots electricity demand in

Lowering the temperature of cities can bring a multitude of benefits. Source: Global Cool Cities Alliance.

(Figure 2) Lowering the temperature of cities can bring a multitude of benefits. Source: Global Cool Cities Alliance.

Washington, D.C., against the maximum temperature every day for 5 years (2010–2015). The graph’s shape looks very similar to plots from other cities with high penetrations of air conditioning units. Demand for electricity climbs rapidly above about 80°F. When the maximum temperature is 90°F, the city requires 21 percent more electricity, on average, than on 80°F days. At 95°F, demand has spiked by nearly 40 percent over the 80°F baseline. Charges for peak electricity demand are a major expense for commercial and industrial building operators and, in seventeen states, for homeowners as well. Further, peaking demand is often met by less efficient, more expensive, and dirtier power plants that worsen air quality. At worst, peak demand can cause productivity-killing service interruptions or brownouts.

Cooler Cities Are Healthier Places

Heat is a potent but silent killer. On average, heat kills more people than any other natural disaster, and heat-related deaths tend to be underreported. In 2015, Scientific American reported that 9 out of the 10 deadliest heat events in history have occurred since 2000 and have led to nearly 130,000 deaths. Cities on dangerously hot days experience 7 percent to 14 percent spikes in mortality from all causes.

Heat stress and stroke are only the tip of the pyramid of heat health impacts. Heat puts significant additional stress on people already suffering from diseases of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and/or diabetes. A recent study finds that every 1.5°F increase in temperatures will kill 5.4 more people per 100,000 people every year.

Installing cool roofs or vegetation can lead to a meaningful reduction in heat deaths by making the daytime weather conditions more tolerable. There are a number of studies estimating the impact of increasing urban reflectivity and vegetative cover on weather conditions. Kalkstein 2012 and Vanos 2013 looked at past heat waves in 4 U.S. cities and modeled the impact of increasing reflectivity by 0.1 (the estimated equivalent of switching about 25 percent of roofs from dark to light colors) and vegetative cover by 10 percent. Though the sample sizes are too small to draw sweeping conclusions, the studies found that cities making these modest changes could shift weather into less dangerous conditions and reduce mortality by 6 percent to 7 percent.

Cooler Cities Are Engines of Economic Growth

The health, air quality, and energy benefits of modest increases in urban roof reflectivity could generate billions of dollars of

An infrared scan of Sacramento, Calif., shows the range of surface temperatures in the area. Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories.

(Figure 3) An infrared scan of Sacramento, Calif., shows the range of surface temperatures in the area. Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories.

economic prosperity for our cities. A study of 1,700 cities published in the Journal Nature Climate Change found that changing only 20 percent of a city’s roofs and half of its pavement to cool options could save up to 12 times what they cost to install and maintain, and reduce air temperatures by about 1.5°F (0.8°C). For the average city, such an outcome would generate over a $1 billion in net economic benefits. Best of all, adding cool roofs to between 20 and 30 percent of urban buildings is a very realistic target if existing urban heat island mitigation policy best practices are adopted.

Cool Roof Performance in Cold Climates: In Brief

As positive as cool roofs are for cities in cool climates, they first have to be a high-performing choice for the building itself. What do we know about net energy savings in cool climates with higher heating load? This question was the subject of “There is Evidence Cool Roofs Provide Benefits to Buildings in Climate Zones 4-8” in the November/December 2016 issue of Roofing that summarized the newest science and field studies that show that reflective roofs provide net energy benefits and favorable heat flux impacts on roofs in cold climates. In short, the newest research from Columbia, Princeton and others demonstrates that the size of the “winter heating penalty” is significantly less than many had thought and shows net reductions in annual energy use when cool roofs are used, even with roof insulation levels as high as R48.

Real Cool Roofs in Cold Climates: The Target Survey

It is not just the science that supports the use of reflective roofs in cold climates. The strong and steady growth of cool roofing in northern markets over the last decade or two is also a good indication that reflective roofs are a high-performance option in those areas. For almost 20 years, Target Corporation has installed reflective PVC membranes on nearly all of its stores in the

Studies estimate that modest increases in urban roof reflectivity could generate billions of dollars of economic prosperity for cities. Pictured here is the roof on the Cricket Club in Toronto. Photo: Steve Pataki

Studies estimate that modest increases in urban roof reflectivity could generate billions of dollars of economic prosperity for cities. Pictured here is the roof on the Cricket Club in Toronto. Photo: Steve Pataki

United States and Canada. The membranes are usually installed over a steel deck with no vapor retarder. Target and manufacturer Sika Corporation undertook a field study of 26 roofs on randomly chosen stores located in ASHRAE Climate Zones 4-6 including Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Washington, and Wisconsin. The roofs were 10-14 years old at the time of the survey. None of the 51 total roof sample cuts were made across these roofs showed signs of condensation damage. A more detailed accounting of the study by representatives of Target Corporation and Sika Sarnafil published in Building Enclosure includes this important paragraph from authors Michael Fenner, Michael DiPietro and Stanley Graveline:

“Specific operational and other costs are confidential information and cannot be disclosed. However, it can be stated unequivocally that although the magnitude varies, Target has experienced net energy savings from the use of cool roofs in all but the most extreme climates. Although the savings in northern states are clearly less than those achieved in southern locations, experience over approximately two decades has validated the ongoing use of cool roofs across the entire real estate portfolio. Even in climates with lengthy heating seasons, overall cooling costs exceed heating costs in Target’s facilities.”

It is increasingly clear that installing cool roofs is the definition of “doing well by doing good.” Even in cold areas, a properly built roof system with a reflective surface is a high-performance option that delivers value for building owners while making hugely positive contributions to the neighborhoods and cities they occupy.

Court Ruling Allows Continued Development of Public Health and Safety Standards

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Hon. Tanya S. Chutkan) has issued a ruling that will support federal, state and local governments’ efforts to support public health and safety through the use of voluntary consensus codes and standards. The court granted a motion for summary judgment filed by a number of standard development organizations (SDOs), including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), ASTM International and ASHRAE. The court’s ruling permanently enjoins Public.Resource.org from its previous systematic infringement of numerous SDO copyrighted codes and standards. The ruling vindicates the longstanding public-private partnership pursuant to which government entities may, if they choose, incorporate by reference high quality safety codes and standards.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision, which recognizes the importance of a time-tested process that serves governments and individuals well and is vital to public health and safety,” says Jim Pauley, president of NFPA.

The history of not-for-profit SDOs developing voluntary consensus standards goes back more than a century. Governments, businesses, and individuals across the country rely on a variety of works, from product specifications and installation methods to safety codes and standards.  SDOs, not governmental agencies, underwrite the costs of developing standards.
 
“The court’s ruling means federal, state and local agencies can continue to rely on not-for-profit SDOs to develop voluntary consensus standards at a high level of excellence and at minimal cost to government,” says Kathie Morgan, president, ASTM International.

SDOs pay for the standard development process and invest in new standards with the money earned selling and licensing their copyrighted works.  This model allows SDOs to remain independent of special interests and to develop up-to-date standards.  It also allows the U.S. government, and governments at all levels, the freedom to decide whether to incorporate these standards by reference without a drain on their resources.
 
“We and many other SDOs already provide free online access to many standards as part of our commitment to safety,” says Timothy G. Wentz, ASHRAE president. “And, preventing the infringement of copyrighted material will allow not-for-profit SDOs to continue meeting the needs of the people and jurisdictions we serve.”
 
For more information about this issue visit the website.

NIBS Releases New Building Information Modeling Guideline

Following a year-long development process, the National Institute of Building Sciences has released its new guideline to help building owners utilize building information modeling (BIM). The “National BIM Guide for Owners (NBGO)” provides building owners with an approach, from their own profession’s standpoint, to create and fulfill BIM requirements for a typical project. Unveiled during the kickoff of Building Innovation 2017, the Guide is now available free online.

The National Institute of Building Sciences, with the support of ASHRAE, Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) and financial support from the U.S. Department of Defense – Defense Health Agency, compiled a balanced, integrated team that has worked for the past year to craft the NBGO. The team developed the guide under the premise that BIM, in and of itself, is not the end but rather the means to a number of potentially valuable project delivery outcomes for the building owner.

The 36-page NBGO addresses three broad areas the owner should understand in order to work effectively with the Project BIM Team: process; infrastructure and standards; and execution.
 
The guide provides building owners with a documented process and procedure for their design teams to follow to produce a standard set of BIM documents during the design and construction of the facility, and for maintenance and operations of the facility upon handoff. Establishing the criteria, specifications and expectations in the design and construction process will help owners capture the full value of investing in BIM, while providing a uniform approach for institutional and commercial building owners to achieve consistent BIM requirements for their facilities.

Thanks go to the NBGO team, including the team’s chair, Dan Chancey, RPA, senior vice president, Asset Management, Cushman & Wakefield, Commercial Advisors; Ernie Conrad, PE, BOMA fellow, representing BOMA International; Carrie Sturts Dossick, PhD, PE, associate professor and executive director, Center for Education and Research in Construction, University of Washington; Craig R. Dubler, PhD, DBIA, manager, Facility Asset Management, Penn State University; Johnny Fortune, CDT, LEED AP, BIM/IT director, Bullock Tice Associates; M. Dennis Knight, PE, FASHRAE, founder & CEO, Whole Building Systems LLC, representing ASHRAE; and John I. Messner, PhD, Charles and Elinor Matts Professor of Architectural Engineering, director, Computer Integrated Construction Research Program, Penn State University.

The new guideline, which is based on a number of foreign, federal, state and local BIM guides that already exist, is geared to a generic facility with uniform requirements for use by a variety of government, institutional and commercial building owners. It references a range of documents and practices, including those contained within the National BIM Standard-United States.

The next step will be to submit the NBGO for publication as an industry standard. Download the NBGO.

There Is Evidence Cool Roofs Provide Benefits to Buildings in Climate Zones 4 through 8

FIGURE 1: Reflective roof requirements in ASHRAE 90.1 and IECC only apply in Climate Zones 1 through 3, shown here on the ASHRAE Climate Zone Map. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy

FIGURE 1: Reflective roof requirements in ASHRAE 90.1 and IECC only apply in Climate Zones 1 through 3, shown here on the ASHRAE Climate Zone Map. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy

Reflective roofs are a tried and true way to improve building energy efficiency and comfort, generate net energy savings and help mitigate summer urban heat islands. Reflective roofs work by reflecting solar energy off the roof surface, rather than absorbing the energy as heat that can be transmitted into the building and surrounding community.

The simple act of switching from a dark to a light-colored roof surface has a number of benefits. Buildings protected by these types of roofs require less energy to cool and help building owners and residents save money. Cool roofs on buildings without air conditioning can save lives during heat waves by lowering indoor temperatures. Cooler city air is safer to breathe and less polluted, which makes cities more livable and less vulnerable during heat waves. Increasing the reflectivity of urban surfaces can also offset the warming effect of green- house gases already in the atmosphere and help us address the challenges of climate change. Taken together, these benefits are worth billions of dollars to the growing number of people that live and work in U.S. cities.

The energy-savings case for cool roofs in warm climates is clear. Widely adopted model building-code systems, ASHRAE and the IECC, address roof reflectivity. ASHRAE 90.1-1999 added a credit for highly reflective roofs with IECC allowing compliance via ASHRAE in 2003. ASHRAE 90.1-2010 added reflectivity requirements for new and replacement commercial roofs in Climate Zones 1 through 3. IECC added the same requirements in its 2012 version. (Figure 1 shows the ASHRAE climate zone map for the U.S.)

There is, however, an ongoing debate about whether cool roofs deliver net energy benefits in northern climates that experience cold winters and warm to hot summers (Climate Zones 4 through 8). Do reflective roofs remain beneficial as the cold weather season kicks in? The same properties that allow reflective roofs to keep buildings cooler in the summer may also cause them to make buildings colder in the winter. Theoretically, buildings with cool roofs could require more energy to reach a comfortable temperature in winter—a consequence known as the “winter heating penalty.” Furthermore, building codes tend to require more roof insulation in colder climates than warmer climates, potentially reducing the energy-efficiency benefits of roof surface reflectivity.

FIGURE 2A: Annual energy-cost savings ($1 per 100 square meters) from cool roofs on newly constructed, code-compliant buildings with all-electric HVAC. SOURCE: Energy and Buildings

FIGURE 2A: Annual energy-cost savings ($1 per 100 square meters) from cool roofs on newly constructed, code-compliant buildings with all-electric HVAC.
SOURCE: Energy and Buildings

The “winter heating penalty” and the impact of insulation are considerations when installing reflective roofs in some cold climates, but their negative effects are often greatly exaggerated. The sun is generally at a lower angle and days are shorter in winter months than summer months. In fact, in northern locations winter solar irradiance is only 20 to 35 percent of what is experienced in summer months, which means the sun has a reduced impact on roof surface temperature during the winter. Heating loads and expenditures are typically more pronounced in evenings, whereas the benefit of a darker roof in winter is mostly realized during daylight hours. Many commercial buildings require space cooling all year because of human activity or equipment usage, thereby negating the little—if any—heating benefit achieved by a dark roof.

Two new studies, along with decades of real-world examples from the marketplace, indicate that reflective roofs are an effective net energy (and money) saver even in our coldest cities.

SNOW’S IMPACT

In a study recently published in Energy and Buildings, researchers from Concordia University in Montreal evaluated the energy-consumption impact of adding cool roofs to a number of retail and commercial buildings in Anchorage, Alaska; Milwaukee; Montreal; and Toronto. The researchers looked at older, less insulated building prototypes, as well as newer buildings built with code-compliant levels of insulation. Unlike earlier work evaluating the impact of roof reflectivity on building energy consumption in cold climates, this new analysis also accounted for the impact of snow on the roof during winter months.

FIGURE 2B: Annual energy-cost savings ($1 per 100 square meters) from cool roofs installed on older buildings with all- electric HVAC. SOURCE: Energy and Buildings

FIGURE 2B: Annual energy-cost savings ($1 per 100 square meters) from cool roofs installed on older buildings with all- electric HVAC.
SOURCE: Energy and Buildings

Snow has two impacts on the roof that are relevant to understanding the true impact of roof surface reflectivity on energy consumption. First, snow helps insulate the roof. As a porous medium with high air content, snow conducts less heat than soil. This effect generally increases with snow density and thickness. Second, snow is white and, therefore, reflective. At a thickness of about 4 inches, snow will turn even a dark roof into a highly reflective surface (approximately 0.6 to 0.9 solar reflectance).

When snow is factored in, the benefits of cool roofs in cold climates be- come much clearer. Figure 2a shows the net energy savings and peak electricity reduction with and without snow for cool roofs installed on newly constructed, code-compliant buildings, assuming all-electric HVAC. Figure 2b shows savings from cool roofs installed on existing, older vintage buildings. The paper, available from the journal Energy and Buildings also includes results with gas HVAC systems.

INSULATION’S EFFECTS

Another argument often heard against reflective roofing in cold climates is that buildings in northern climates tend to have higher levels of roof insulation that reduce or negate the energy-savings impact of roof surface color. A new field study and model analysis of black and white roof membranes over various levels of insulation by the City University of New York and Princeton University and Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, the latter two of Princeton, N.J., clearly rebuts the “insulation versus reflectivity” tradeoff.

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You Can Influence Codes and Standards

As associate executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based EPDM Roofing Association (ERA), I focus a great deal of my time and energy on the codes and standards that regulate or guide the roofing business. In the current environment, driven by constant upgrades in technology, as well as the need to save energy, these codes—and the standards that often inform them—seem to be undergoing steady revision. Believe it or not—and the word “geek” does come to mind—I find participating in this process extremely interesting. In fact, following and sometimes influencing emerging codes and standards is among the most important responsibilities of my job.

I’ll be the first to admit that a detailed review of a standards manual is probably not anyone’s idea of exciting reading. But given the importance of codes and standards to the construction industry, we ignore them at our own risk.

For a start, what’s the difference between a code and a standard? Ask enough people in the roofing industry and you will get a variety of answers. But generally, codes are the “top-tier” documents, providing a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for manufactured, fabricated or constructed objects. They frequently have been enacted into local laws or ordinances and noncompliance can result in legal action. Standards, on the other hand, establish engineering or technical requirements for products, practices, methods or operations. They literally provide the nuts and bolts of meeting code requirements. If codes tell you what you have to do, standards tell you how to do it. Frequently, standards—especially “voluntary consensus standards”—are the precursors for what becomes law years down the road.

ERA has represented the manufacturers of EPDM roofing for more than a decade. Through the years, we have learned the importance of interfacing with standard-setting and regulatory bodies. One of our first, and most important, learning experiences was working with the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states when they issued regulations designed to achieve federally mandated air-quality standards. (See the article in Roofing’s September/October 2014 issue, page 58.) The initial regulations, which lowered the amount of VOCs in many roofing products, were based on those used in southern California and incorporated provisions that were effective in the climactic and market conditions of that state. But states in the affected areas, from Virginia to Maine, confronted a situation where the new regulations threatened to bring the roofing industry to a sudden halt. In some instances, no adhesives and sealants were available to meet the new standards. And the new products, when they became available, would need to be effective in very cold climates totally unlike those on the West Coast.

ERA worked with officials throughout the impacted areas, helping to create “phase-in” schedules that would give industry enough time to develop products to meet the new standards. In state after state, the local regulators welcomed our input. Our point-of-view was based on a deep understanding of the business needs of our industry. Just as important, we understood the science behind the proposed regulations and could work with the regulatory bodies to ensure the air-quality needs and the needs of the roofing industry were met.

This experience has informed our ongoing approach to code-setting and regulatory bodies. Since our work with the states setting VOC standards, we have invested staff time and resources to stay current with and even ahead of proposals that would impact our members and their customers. We have testified before the South Coast Air Quality Management District in California on its proposal to limit VOCs. ERA has organized an ad-hoc coalition to successfully oppose an unnecessarily stringent proposal to require reflective roofs in the Denver area. And our organization is currently providing input to Atlanta-based ASHRAE’s efforts to clarify its regulation regarding air leakage. This issue—of great importance to the roofing industry—relates to other work being done in ASHRAE working groups and subcommittees on thermal bridging, as well as the definition of walls and wall assemblies. ASHRAE has convened an “Air Leakage Work Group” whose charge is to review the pertinent sections of Standard 90.1 and make recommendations for revising it. ERA staff will be present at this group’s meetings and will once again provide input based on the expertise of our members.

When I work with code-setting and regulatory groups, I am reminded of that very familiar saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” Based on our work at ERA, I’d like to revise that. Your skill at “playing the game” will definitely influence whether you win or lose. Our experience tells us that staying involved with regulatory groups and providing them with input based on firm science and field experience leads to a winning outcome for the roofing business.

Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Is Open for Public Review

Changes to the purpose and scope that reflect advances in green buildings over the last 10 years are proposed for the high performance building standard from ASHRAE, the International Code Council (ICC), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES).

ASHRAE/IES/USGBC/ICC Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings, contains minimum requirements for the siting, design and construction of high-performance green buildings in support of reducing building energy use, resource consumption and other environmental impacts while maintaining acceptable indoor environments.

Among them is addenda o, which proposes revisions to the existing purpose and scope of the standard to clarify its intended purposes and application, and to better reflect the revisions to the standard that are being considered by the committee.

Committee chair Andrew Persily notes that the current title, purpose and scope were approved in 2006 and that much has taken place in the world of green buildings in the past 10 years.

Under addenda o, the purpose of the standard has been rewritten to focus on goals vs. strategies. For example, rather than energy efficiency, the goal of reduced building emissions is proposed for inclusion in the purpose.

A new section of the purpose speaks to the alignment of Standard 189.1 with the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), noting specifically that the standard is intended to serve as the technical basis of mandatory buildings codes and regulations for high-performance buildings.

Standard 189.1 currently is a compliance option of the 2015 IgCC, published by the International Code Council, ASTM and the American Institute of Architects. The standard will serve as the technical content for the IgCC beginning in 2018.

Other addenda open for public review until May 8, 2016 are:

  • Addendum i reorganizes the roof heat island mitigation section and adds new provisions for vegetated terrace and roofing systems relative to plant selection, growing medium, roof membrane protection and clearances. In addition, provisions for the operation and maintenance of vegetated roofs are proposed for addition to Section 10.
  • Addendum n clarifies footnote b to Table 7.5.2A. This footnote provides a method to adjust the percent reduction for buildings with unregulated energy cost exceeding 35 percent of the total energy cost. This addendum clarifies that the adjustment is to be made on the basis of energy cost, not energy use.
  • Addendum p proposes to add requirements for water bottle filling stations, which are intended to improve water efficiency and sanitation of public drinking water and to reduce the environmental effects of plastic bottles.
  • Addendum r lowers the ductwork pressure testing threshold to include 3-inch pressure class ducts, which are common upstream of variable air volume (VAV) boxes.
  • Addendum t adds new requirements for reverse osmosis and onsite reclaimed water systems in order to reduce the likelihood of excessive water use because of poor design of water treatment and filter system.
  • Addendum u adds new requirements for water softeners to reduce water consumption given the impact of the design and efficiency of these systems on water discharge water rates.

Open for public review from April 8 until May 23, 2016 are:

  • Addendum q modifies Chapters 5, 7, 8 and 11, as well as Appendices A and E, to reflect the addition of Climate Zone 0 in ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 169-2013, Climatic Data for Building Design Standards.
  • Addendum s removes the performance option for water use and moves the prescriptive option into the mandatory section.

ASHRAE and IES Release Guidance on New Compliance Path for Standard 90.1

A newly published document from ASHRAE and IES gives users of their energy-efficiency standard immediate access to an optional third path for compliance, providing more flexibility for the industry.

Standard 90.1-2013 Appendix G: Performance Rating Method is an excerpt from ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1 (I-P), Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings. The document gives users immediate access to selected addenda slated to be published in the 2016 version of the standard. The majority of the document is comprised of addendum bm, which allows Appendix G to be used as a compliance path within the standard.

“This document is being provided at the request of users,” says Drake Erbe, chair of the Standard 90.1 committee. “This is the first time ASHRAE and IES have made available an interim clean publication of a portion of Standard 90.1, and we are doing so now because users have expressed a critical need for this guidance. Several entities have expressed interest in developing programs based on the revised appendix. This release also gives advanced notice to software developers that may be interested in automating the process of creating the Appendix G baseline.”

Erbe notes that the guidance in addendum bm had two significant impacts on Appendix G.

“Previously Appendix G was used only to rate ‘beyond code’ performance of buildings but could not be used to demonstrate compliance with the base 90.1 standard,” he says. “Now the standard provides that compliance path and gives credit for integrated design resulting in energy savings, such as efficient use of building mass, optimized building orientation, efficient HVAC&R system selection and right sizing of HVAC&R equipment.”

Using this new version of Appendix G to show compliance with the 2016 version of the standard, the proposed building design needs to have a Performance Cost Index (PCI) less than that shown in Table 4.2.1.1 based on building type and climate zone.

The second change is that the baseline design is now fixed at a certain level of performance, the stringency of which is expected not to change with subsequent versions of the standard. By this, a building of any era can be rated using the same method with the same baseline of compliance. The intent is that any building energy code or beyond-code program can use this methodology and simply set the appropriate target for their needs analogous to those in the table. Therefore, a beyond-code program may wish to set a target less than is shown in the table (a target of 0 is a net zero building), while compliance with a previous version of the standard may wish to set a target above what is shown. Because unregulated loads are not included in the compliance target in Table 4.2.1.1, beyond-code programs that encourage improvement in unregulated loads may wish to modify the target to include those loads.

Other addenda included in the excerpt are:

  • Addendum k directs the modeler to use the default assemblies in Appendix A for baseline opaque envelope assemblies.
  • Addendum r establishes the hierarchy of the decision-making process for selecting baseline HVAC systems.
  • Addendum z provides detail on the simulation of base-line building heat pumps, including how auxiliary heat is used in conjunction with heat-pump heating.
  • Addendum aa provides direction regarding when it is appropriate to model a heating-only system in Appendix G.
  • Addendum ad clarifies when baseline HVAC systems should be modeled with preheat coils.
  • Addendum dx makes changes to the baseline lighting power allowances in Appendix G.

Erbe noted that while it is likely that the version of Appendix G published in the 2016 edition of the standard will include additional changes to Appendix G, it is not likely that they will be as extensive as those included in addendum bm. The primary focus is to make the new methodology with a fixed baseline available so users become familiar with it.

ICC and ASHRAE Outline Roles for Development of International Green Construction Code

In a deal nearly two years in the making, the International Code Council (ICC) and ASHRAE have signed the final agreement that outlines each organization’s role in the development and maintenance of the new version of the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), ASHRAE, ICC, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The code, scheduled to be released in 2018, will be powered by ANSI/ASHRAE/ICC/IES/USGBC Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings developed using the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved ASHRAE consensus process. The joint Standing Standards Project Committee 189.1 (SSPC) will serve as the consensus body that will work to ensure the standard is consistent and coordinated with the ICC Family of Codes.

The ICC will be responsible for Chapter 1, Scope and Administration. For the 2018 IgCC, ICC will coordinate the technical provisions developed by ASHRAE with the provisions in Chapter 1 of the 2015 IgCC. As a result, the 2016 Group B Cycle will not include Chapter 1 of the IgCC for code changes. With ASHRAE developing technical provisions, ICC’s 2017 Group C cycle to develop the 2018 IgCC has been cancelled. Part of the development process for the 2018 technical provisions will include the SSPC review of the 2015 IgCC and consideration of content for inclusion in 189.1-2017 along with changes generated by the committee and proposals submitted by stakeholders. Following the completion of the 2018 IgCC, Chapter 1 of the IgCC will be developed by ICC using its consensus code development process.

“Our goal in this partnership all along has been to share resources to increase use of the IgCC and make it simpler for code officials, designers and contractors to build environmentally efficient structures that will lessen energy and water consumption and reduce the carbon footprint,” said ICC Board President Guy Tomberlin, CBO. “We are now situated to do just that. We thank our partners, ICC Members and all who will contribute to the development of the IgCC powered by 189.1.”

The Executive Steering Committee for the effort to align 189.1, the IgCC and LEED consists of representatives of ICC, ASHRAE, USGBC, AIA and IES, and the SSPC Chair.

“The full integration of Standard 189.1 to serve as the technical content of the IgCC will leverage ASHRAE’s technical expertise and increase the standard’s influence on sustainable buildings,” notes ASHRAE President David Underwood. “We look forward to continuing to engage a broad spectrum of stakeholders in development of Standard 189.1 following the ANSI consensus standards development process. The result will be a comprehensive compliance tool that can be used by jurisdictions worldwide that are committed to a more sustainable built environment.”

The new publication also will align the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) rating system program to ensure a streamlined, effective set of regulatory and above-code options. The green building certification program recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification

“This joint initiative will forge the fundamental regulatory building blocks of green construction on which future green building leadership initiatives can grow,” says Brendan Owens, chief of engineering at USGBC. “It takes courage to think differently and to commit to a new model, and for that we thank the leadership of the partner organizations behind the IgCC powered by 189.1.”

“Our combined membership, consisting of practicing design professionals, code officials, and the building industry representatives, supports the development of codes and standards that protect the health, safety and welfare of the public at large,” says AIA CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA. “Through this significant agreement, both the AIA and the ICC agree to work more closely to achieve our common goals.”

In 2010, ASHRAE and ICC joined forces by making 189.1 an alternative compliance path for the IgCC. The new agreement between ASHRAE and ICC furthers the effort these organizations initiated in 2010 by providing the market with a single code that is coordinated with the International Family of Codes.

“IES looks forward to continuing to partner with ASHRAE in developing technical content for Standard 189.1,” according to Rita Harrold, IES representative. “And to participating with the other organizations in this unique collaborative opportunity to satisfy the goals for the new version of IgCC.”

The agreement creates a comprehensive framework for jurisdictions looking to implement and adopt green building regulations and codes. The unprecedented collaboration leverages the unique organizational expertise of the partners participating in this evolution of green building codes and brings AIA, ASHRAE, ICC, IES and USGBC into strategic and tactical alignment on the relationship between 189.1 and the IgCC. Other organizations that support this vision and would like to join the effort are invited to contact Dominic Sims or Jeff Littleton.