Massachusetts Energy Code Compliance Testing Services for New Homes
Azimuth Home Energy Solutions specializes in providing code compliance testing and certifications for new homes. We have expertise in the Stretch Energy Code, and the 2015 IECC (International Energy Commission Code) code; about half of the Massachusetts communities require compliance with the Stretch Energy Code, and IECC has been utilized since January 2017 in all Massachusetts cities and towns. We have been a Certified HERS rater since 2010, and 35+ years in the building industry.
What is process for obtaining Energy code compliance for a new home in Stretch Code communities?
If your new home project is either in a Stretch Code community or is eligible for Mass Save rebates our energy audit process includes:
- Review plans. Gather specifications for mechanicals, windows, and insulation.
- Input specifications into REM/Rate software for projected HERS rating.
- Review projected HERS score relative to code standards. Current codes require HERS maximum of 55 in Stretch Code communities.
- Provide a projected HERS certificate and letter of code compliance for building permit.
- Meet with Contractor and subcontractors on site to review code requirements, best practices, and testing protocol to clarify expectations.
- Inspect, photo-document, and certify insulation following installation, prior to sheetrock or plaster installation
- Test duct systems for air tightness/leakage following installation. Provide air tightness certification.
- Blower door building shell leakage test and certification upon completion
- Photo-document all mechanical equipment and appliance model information.
- Testing of ventilation equipment
- Completion of Energy Star Thermal Envelope Checklist
- Final HERs rating certificate, code compliance certification. Here's an example HERS certificate.
Will my new home construction project be eligible for Mass Save rebates?
Mass Save rebates are awarded to HERS rated new construction projects in communities which have investor owned (non-municipal) electric companies and/or natural gas on site. Mass Save incentive rebates are awarded based on the achieved efficiency of the project compared to the average efficiency of houses built in prior years. Monetary incentives up to $5000 are available to program participants who complete home that meet all of the program requirements. The program requires that you work with a HERS rater to guide you through the program and verify that you meet all of the program requirements. Mass Save provides free LED light bulbs for participating homes
For information see the Mass Save new construction program.
What are the Code requirements for new houses built in communities that have not adopted the Stretch Energy Code?
In communities that have not adopted the Stretch Energy Code the code requirements are the 2015 IECC. The requirements to meet this code include:
- Meet all code insulation levels
- Meet code ventilation requirement
- Test to demonstrate compliance HVAC duct leakage
- Test to demonstrate compliance building air leakage (blower door test)
What are some elements that make an energy efficient home?
An energy efficient home (low HERS score) will have high insulation levels, a tight building envelope, high efficiency heating, cooling and water heating equipment, good windows, Energy Star rated appliances, and all LED lighting. Additional efficiency may be gained with renewables such as PV electricity generation or geothermal heat pumps. For more information see Mass Save - Features of Energy Efficient Homes.
What do I need to keep the house environment healthy if the house is so tight?
In combination with a tight building shell the code requires a ventilation system to maintain healthy indoor air during the portion of the year when windows are not being left open. In houses with central AC systems, that could be all year.
To meet the code ventilation requirement a house must be equipped with either a continuous exhaust only system (bath fan) which will depressurize the house and force outdoor air in through whatever paths exist (small holes), or an Energy Recovery Ventilation system (ERV) which provides a continuous supply of fresh air which is preheated by the heat of air which is being exhausted.
Factors which influence the code standard for ventilation are the overall floor area of the house, as well as the number of bedrooms. In general, smaller houses (less than 2500 square feet) can meet the ventilation requirement with a continuously operating bath fan. Houses over 3000 square feet will be better served by an ERV in meeting the ventilation requirement. An ERV system has the added benefit of maintain the house in neutral pressure.
All ventilation systems act to reduce indoor humidity levels which is healthier for occupants and better for building durability.
For more information read this article from the Building Performance Institute - Technically Speaking: Whole-House Mechanical Ventilation
Energy Star New Homes Program
ENERGY STAR certified new homes are designed and built to standards well above most other homes on the market today, delivering energy efficiency savings of up to 20 percent when compared to typical new homes.
A new home that has earned the ENERGY STAR label has undergone a process of inspections, testing, and verification to meet strict requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), delivering better quality, better comfort, and better durability. Visit the Energy Star website to learn more about the features and benefits of an Energy Star Certified new home.
Tried–and–true building practices, such as flashing, moisture barriers, and heavy–duty membranes, are employed to effectively drain water from the ENERGY STAR Certified Home
Benefits of living in an ENERGY STAR HOME
This graphic produced by Energy Star© explains the benefits of an Energy Star Certified New Home.