Commercial energy codes program sheds light on energy savings & compliance
Although there have been several programs focused on comprehensive energy code compliance implemented in other parts of the country, they have yet to be tested in Minnesota — despite the fact that they can contribute considerably to our state’s 1.5% annual savings goal for CIP programs.
The Center for Energy and Environment has released a final report for its Commercial Energy Codes Support Program, which was developed to evaluate the potential to cost-effectively achieve additional CIP program savings by providing guidance and technical assistance to designers and city plan reviewers to support improved compliance with Minnesota’s energy code. Recommendations from the pilot program were made available to utility staff and CIP program regulators as a resource. The project team analyzed energy savings from two program approaches, both of which put special emphasis on high-impact energy code requirements that are often overlooked.
Pilot approach I focused on design team support for small and simpler buildings, from early design through construction:
The team developed quick-reference tools for four building types, such as office remodel and new retail construction, with a focus on the energy code items with the largest energy benefit and lowest compliance rate.
In addition, building owners and project team members were provided with incentives for incorporating two dozen basic efficiency requirements into their project.
Pilot approach II provided city plan reviewers with support for large and complex buildings — some of which require review of building energy simulations.
Third-party energy specialists also offered support to code enforcement professionals, so that highly efficient design features and energy performance were clearly understood. Furthermore, these specialists helped determine compliance at the plan review stage and created a checklist of tools for city staff.
Overall, 32 buildings engaged with at least one of the above pilots. The project team, informed by early feedback, developed supportive tools and templates for the design teams to help them ensure that designs included adequate documentation of key energy features.
To learn more about the project’s findings, check out our final report or our policy brief: CIP Energy Code Compliance Programs: Opportunities for Reaping Savings in Minnesota, that addresses issues of claiming CIP program savings.
The Commercial Energy Codes Project was supported in part by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources through the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) program — as well as co-funding by CEE in support of its nonprofit mission to advance research, knowledge dissemination, and program design in the field of energy efficiency. We would also like to thank the cities of Blaine, Minnetonka, and St. Louis Park for partnering with CEE on this project.
Commercial Energy Codes Support Program (webinar)