The Future is Here: NYC Adopts New Energy Code

With a New York City Council vote on July 14, 2016 NYC adopted amendments to the new New York State (NYS) energy code, which go live October 3rd of this year. Since any amendments to the state code must technically be of greater stringency, there are some notable additions. In this article we NYC Cityscapewill discuss the highlights of both the new NYS and NYC energy code versions for commercial construction (includes multifamily above 3-stories) and what to expect in upcoming revisions as the bar is raised on energy efficiency and high performance buildings.

Before we discuss the highlights, here is a quick primer on the underlying basis of the new code. The new NYS energy code also known as New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code (NYSECCC) is based on a model code and standard – 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE 90.1-2013. Naturally, the NYSECC is then referred to as 2015 IECC + 2016 NYS Supplement. In NYC, it’s simply 2016 NYCECC. Got it?

Highlights:

 

Envelope
  • Above deck roof insulation increased to R-30 continuous on masonry buildings.
  • Specific to NYC, mechanical louvers, such as the exterior side of a PTAC, must now be accounted for in meeting opaque envelope requirements. SWA’s simulations of this change concluded that steel-framed buildings would need to add a modest amount of continuous insulation to account for this.  With a renewed focus on thermal bridging, SWA predicts an accounting of all thermal bridges including shelf angles, clips, and masonry ties may be next. See references below.
  • Buildings between 25,000 and 50,000 square feet must conduct blower door testing. Buildings over 50,000 square feet must test or inspect each type of air barrier joint and seam. Stay tuned for more on this in a follow-up series of articles.
Mechanical
  • Open-combustion (aka atmospheric) boilers will need to reside outside the thermal envelope of the building. If located within a building, the boiler room will need to be thermally isolated from the rest of the building with combustion air provided via an insulated duct. Will this sound the death knell for atmospheric equipment?
  • Condensing boilers are required for all domestic hot water systems > 1,000 MBTU.
  • Energy recovery is required for all continuously-operated make-up air systems.
  • Commissioning requirements have been further clarified to include lighting controls.

The new energy code has set a new bar. Reaching ENERGY STAR® and LEED energy performance targets become that much more challenging. We expect to see additional aggressive revisions in the coming years to reflect NYS and NYC’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Can Passive House and near net-zero requirements really be that far off?

References:

  1. There are Holes in Our Walls
    http://urbangreencouncil.org/sites/default/files/there_are_holes_in_our_walls.pdf
  2. Limiting Shelf Angles in Masonry Buildings
    http://www.swinter.com/party-walls/tag/shelf-angles/
2 replies
  1. Scott Greenbaum says:

    Improving codes will result in better buildings if they are enforced. Until the alternative compliance path is straightened out. All these all glazed buildings are passing code because the lighting density budgets are based on old fluorescent technology instead of LED lighting. I think prescriptive minimum standards need to be inforce.

    As far as Energy Star rating becoming more challenging I have found the opposite particularly in the Office Building and k-12 school markets. I have a number of buildings that I do energy accounting for. Over the last year or so average buildings with no change in energy consumption have had there scores improve 10 to 30 points. The improvement is greater the poorer the building was performing. I am now EnergyStar certifying buildings that historically had scores of 60 and no changes. A number of buildings with increasing weather adjusted energy consumption that had traditionally score just over 75 are getting the same or better scores.

    I can not use Portfolio Manager anymore to show my clients how poorly the buildigns are peroforming. Without accountability this is all becoming a joke.

    Reply
    • Ryan Merkin
      Ryan Merkin says:

      We agree enforcement is key. New York City picked up on this years ago and now has a separate division of plan reviewers dedicated to energy code. The reviews are comprehensive and the design community is taking note. In addition, third-party progress inspections are required. Last, we are now seeing random audits in the field. Hopefully this model gains traction and expands to other municipalities.

      As far as ENERGY STAR scores go, we do not make recommendations using those scores. Note the bar for distinguishing the top 25% varies as the number of properties in the database increases. Our preference is to look more granularly and compare building types with similar characteristics (vintage, systems, etc.); examining the energy usage by end-use and year over year changes in both consumption and equipment.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *