Local Adoption Process
Adopting a new code is always a time consuming process but following a few simple guidelines like keeping your stakeholders well informed and understanding the costs and benefits of the new code will make it easier.
See the tables below for SPEER’s compilation of publicly available information about local code adoption. We will continue to update this resource for stakeholders.
County Order or Resolution
Counties may adopt an energy code and issue permits. SPEER encourages them to do this because there is a very real lack of clarity about the roles and responsibilities in providing affordable, comfortable, healthy and durable housing for the citizens of Texas. To assist counties in developing and implementing an energy code, SPEER has developed:
- Sample County Order or Resolution
- Sample Builder Handout to provide builders at time of permit application
- Sample Inspection – Compliance Verification Form
There are about 1200 cities, towns and villages in Texas that have a responsibility to adopt and enforce energy codes. Code adoption ordinances take many forms and most cities will have a preferred format. If your city doesn’t have a standard format, see sample city ordinance.
State law allows local jurisdictions to adopt amendments to the energy code if they do not make the code less stringent. Local governments that are considering adopting local amendments should have the amendments reviewed by the Texas A&M University Energy Systems Laboratory to ensure that they meet this requirement.
The 2015 energy code is a very progressive code and the technical provisions are mostly clearly written. Therefore, SPEER recommends adopting this code with as few amendments as possible. There are a few areas where more clarity may be needed. SPEER has provided a menu of clarifying amendments that may be useful for cities to adopt. Click on any of the following topics to see the suggested amendment.
- Encapsulation of Wall Insulation
- Required Certifications for Air Leakage Testing Contactors
- Third Party Registration for Air Leakage Testing Contractors
- Required Certification for Duct Testing Contractors
- Third Party Registration for Duct Testing Contractors
- Documentation of Heating and Cooling System Design
- Energy Rating Index, Mandatory Requirements (correction of errata)
- Energy Rating Index, On-site Power Production
- Energy Rating Index, Table 406.4 Maximum Energy Rating Index (amendment from TX Legislature)
Benefits of New Energy Codes
Supporting increased adoption and enforcement of energy codes will greatly increase efficiency in new buildings, lowering a homeowner’s energy costs significantly enough to create positive cash flow for homeowners from day one, and reap the benefits of the savings for the life of the building. Both residential and commercial buildings can significantly reduce the peak demand for power, which reduces energy costs to the entire state, and reduces the need for additional power plants to be built. See Costs and Benefits of Adopting the 2015 Energy Code.
Insurance Services Office Rating
Insurance Services Office (ISO) reviews city practices so that they can develop an insurance classification rating that reflects the safety and durability of the buildings in the event of flood or other natural disaster. This rating is based on having certified inspectors, regular training, adequate staffing to handle their local building demand, and the adoption and enforcement of current building codes, including energy codes. If the building code adopted by a city is more than five years older than the latest edition published (2009 and earlier codes), the city will begin to lose points in their score, increasing as time goes on. Conversely, the adoption of the 2015 building codes and energy codes awards the maximum number of points in that category. Frequently asked questions for code officials.
ISO published its Building Codes Assessment Report for 2015. This report contains valuable information about the state of building code adoption in Texas and the impact of delayed code adoption and lax code enforcement on hazard insurance rates.
Third Party Participation
The 2015 Energy Code requires performance testing to be performed on every home by a Third Party, including a blower door to evaluate envelope tightness and a duct blaster to evaluate duct leakage. These results should be provided to the inspector or code official as required. If the home does not meet the required tightness, the certified person performing the test may be able to assist the builder in making the necessary improvement.
Texas also allows third-party or private sector enforcement of building codes, which may be a cost-effective option to increase capacity of the city’s staff for one or all of the inspections. Cities will typically have the plan review and field inspection as part of the same program, to ensure that the building conforms to the plan. Cities may develop or approve a qualified pool of inspectors that the builder may choose from, or assign an inspector on a rotational basis. Further, the city should also monitor and verify inspector conformance by conducting random performance audits of inspectors. Third-party inspectors who are engaged in the enforcement of energy codes are also required to have ICC Certification.
- Best Practice-Third Party Energy Code Compliance Verification
- Third Party Energy Inspector registration
- Energy Code – Third Party Final Compliance Verification
Training and Resources
Training and education about energy codes for code officials, builders, contractors and designers will make the transition to the new code easier and less stressful for everyone. SPEER offers webinars, in-person trainings, videos and various other resources from groups like the Air Conditioning Contractors of America that will help all those involved in the industry understand what’s in the code and how to comply with it. To visit our ever growing list of trainings and resources go to our Training and Resources page.