Texas adopted new energy codes in the fall of 2016. For residential buildings that code is Chapter 11 of the International Residential Code, and for all other private sector buildings the code is the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code. The technical provisions of the IRC and the IECC are identical but there are minor differences in the administrative chapters and some difference in what is included in the definitions chapter.
Statewide adoption is just the first step toward code compliance in Texas. Because Texas is a home rule state, each local jurisdiction has to adopt the code by ordinance and provide enforcement. In the unincorporated areas of counties, builders are still responsible for meeting the requirements of the codes even though the counties do not have enforcement authority.
Before adopting a new ordinance it is important to remember to involve stakeholders in the review process, create fact sheets for policy makers and to have an idea of what reactions to expect from stakeholders.
Properly engaged stakeholders can provide you with valuable input, improve outcomes and build consensus and trust. It can also increase transparency and lead to better decision making. Effective stakeholder involvement will identify public concerns, help to develop consensus among affected parties, and will produce better more inclusive outcomes.
Preparation of fact sheets will help you communicate the proposed changes with your peers, your community, the media and policymakers. They should be written to communicate with the varied audiences involved. You may wish to mix and match language from multiple fact sheets to communicate with different audiences as appropriate.
Stakeholder involvement, having an idea what the reaction from stakeholders may be and having appropriate fact sheets and talking points will all aid in a smooth adoption process. If you need help identifying stakeholders, creating a fact sheet or developing a list of talking points SPEER can help. Every jurisdiction is a little different so just reach out to us and we will help you.
County Order or Resolution
Despite not having enforcement authority, 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 permitting resolution SPEER has developed this sample county order or resolution.
Cities, towns and villages
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 the sample ordinance here.
State law allows local jurisdictions to adopt amendments to the energy code if they do not make the code less stringent. Cities 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 a 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)