Existing State Energy Codes
Texas currently requires the following state energy codes for new buildings or significant upgrades to existing buildings:
- Residential (Single Family Residences and Duplexes) – the 2015 IRC, Chapter 11.
- State-Funded Residential Buildings – the 2015 IECC.
- Commercial and Residential (Excluding Single-Family Residences) – the 2015 IECC.
- State-Funded Commercial Buildings – the ASHRAE 90.1 – 2013.
For more information on Texas state energy codes see the SECO Energy Codes page.
To learn more about how the 2015 energy codes are different from the previous codes, see our Major Changes Overview page.
The 2015 residential energy code includes a new compliance path, the Energy Rating Index. This is a major change in energy code compliance and is worth spending some time understanding. SPEER has prepared an overview of the ERI and set of charts that demonstrate the difference in ERI scores by city and house size.
Existing State and Local Policy
Energy Codes are adopted statewide and establish a minimum or baseline for all building practices. However, Texas is a “home rule” state which allows for local jurisdictions to make local amendments to the energy code, so long as the change does not result in a less stringent code. To amend the state code in non-attainment and affected counties, Energy Systems Laboratory (ESL) of Texas A&M University must first determine whether the amended code is as stringent as the existing state code. Code amendments that are determined to be as stringent as or more stringent than state code may be implemented through local ordinance. This authority also allows a local jurisdiction to implement a newer version of energy code, so long as that code is more stringent than the state minimum.
Local Jurisdiction Authority
There are over 1,200 cities, towns, and villages that have the authority to implement and enforce energy codes under Chapter 388 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. In addition SECO has the authority to adopt standards for state-owned buildings (Chapter 447 of the Government Code), and has adopted by reference the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)/ Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) Standard 90.1.
Section 388.004 of the Health and Safety Code is very clear that the adopted energy code applies in the unincorporated areas of counties even though counties do not have the authority to charge permit fees or provide inspection services. In these unincorporated areas builders are required to provide certification to the homeowners that homes have been built to code and either inspected by a certified code inspector, or certified by a national, state or local accredited energy efficiency program or, if the builder does not have access to the above methods, he or she may self certify using a form provided by the Energy Systems Lab at Texas A&M University.
Reporting Adopted Codes to SECO is Required
Texas State Law requires a municipality to track and report to the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) on implementation of the codes.
Code Enforcement Staff Require Certification
Texas State Law requires a municipality to ensure that all enforcement personnel be certified by the International Code Council (ICC). ICC provides certification and training to these industry professionals through the Building Professional Institute (BPI) courses, or through online courses and certification testing. The BPI was originally established at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) in 1992 by the Building Officials Association of Texas (BOAT) and the Construction Research Center (CRC) at UTA. The BPI offers a week-long program of quality education and training for building professionals including Builders, Building Officials, Contractors, Municipal Inspectors, Real Estate Inspectors, Architects, Engineers, Plumbers, Fire Protection Personnel, Code Enforcement, Permit Technicians, Electricians, and Environmental Health and Safety Personnel. These courses are offered in four Texas locations each year.
SPEER is an authorized ICC Preferred Provider of continuing education units, and provides free webinars and training to help these enforcement personnel maintain their status with ICC. To see courses currently offered go to SPEER’s Events Calendar. To learn about scheduling a training for your group or area contact us.
Homes receiving EPA ENERGY STAR New Homes Program certification of energy code equivalency are considered to be in compliance with the state energy code according to Texas state law. Texas reported 21,001 ENERGY STAR certified new homes in 2012, and 19,845 in 2014, which demonstrates a slight decrease in popularity with this program as cities adopt more efficient codes. ENERGY STAR 3.0 is more stringent than the 2009 energy codes, but significantly less energy efficient than the 2015 IRC/IECC. The ENERGY STAR New Homes guidelines require that provisions that overlap between the state code and ENERGY STAR must meet the more stringent of the two. (See chart comparing ENERGY STAR for New Homes V3.0 and 2015 IECC).
Health and Safety Code section 388 allows jurisdictions to approve national, state or local accredited energy efficiency programs that have been determined by the Energy Systems Lab at Texas A&M University to be in compliance with the state energy code as alternative compliance options.
Above-code programs provide builders with the opportunity to market their higher energy savings.