Castle Rock Eases Compliance with Updated Building Codes

CASTLE ROCK, CO – For Dan Weed, “phased implementation” is the secret to success when it comes to updating municipal building energy codes.

The former lead building official for the Town of Castle Rock, Colo., says it is important to not overwhelm local construction professionals with frequent changes, so he created a successful schedule that phases in the new energy code construction changes over time.

“The goal for compliance with the new energy codes is for industry professionals to construct buildings, install materials, and perform diagnostic testing in a manner consistent with code requirements and manufacturer instructions,” says Weed. “But you can’t expect them to change overnight when the codes are updated.”

Energy codes are updated by the International Code Council (ICC) every three years.  Though the new codes drive significant improvements in new construction practices and have yielded efficiency gains of 30 percent or more over the past two code cycles, it takes time for the building industry to become familiar with updated installation and construction practices.  In addition, product distributors may not immediately stock products such as high efficiency windows that are required in the newer codes.

Weed says it is important to give industry professionals adequate time to transition to new code requirements.  Notification that new codes have been adopted is the first step, he said.  Then training programs that teach the new requirements and installation procedures should be offered by municipalities and product manufacturers, he noted.  Otherwise, outdated practices are likely to continue. 

In the Town of Castle Rock, an implementation plan is developed when new energy codes are adopted. The plan provides a reasonable schedule for the transition and sets expectations between the town’s building department and industry professionals. Plans provide a clear and reasonable timeline for industry professionals and building department staff to comply with and enforce new procedures. Weed says this model is especially useful when a jurisdiction skips a code cycle or is new to enforcing energy codes.

For more information, download a copy of “Energy Code Implementation: A Planning Guide for Building Departments,” prepared by building efficiency professionals at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) at www.swenergy.org. A webinar on this topic will be hosted by SWEEP at the end of June. Register here.

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About SWEEP: The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public interest organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. To learn more, visit www.swenergy.org.