Energy Codes in State Law

Existing State Energy Codes

Energy Codes are adopted statewide and establish a minimum or baseline for all building practices. Texas law 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.

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Local Jurisdiction Authority

Cities

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.

Counties

Section 388.004 of the Health and Safety Code is very clear that the adopted energy code applies in the unincorporated areas of counties as well as in the incorporated areas of cities and towns. Section 233 subchapter f of the Local Government Code gives counties the authority to adopt and require compliance with the International Residential Code, including the energy provisions of that code, as the building standard for new single family homes and substantial additions to existing homes.

Code Adoption Tools include additional resources for City and County compliance with state law.

Reporting Adopted Codes to SECO is Required

Texas State Law requires a municipality and counties 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.

Local Amendments

Texas is a “home rule” state, so it allows  local jurisdictions to make  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.

ENERGY STAR

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.  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. ENERGY STAR for New Homes V3.1 is considered equivalent and approximately 8% more efficient than the state energy code.

Above-Code Programs

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.