Conference Recap: 7th Annual Midwest Building Energy Codes Conference


The MEEA Codes team took their talents to Cleveland, OH where they held the 7th Annual Midwest Building Energy Codes Conference from November 15 -16, 2016. This event was a success with two productive days of networking and discussion among a diverse group of building efficiency professionals in the Midwest (and some from the coasts). Building professionals were represented from Federal, State and Local Energy Offices, Federal National Laboratories, Consulting Agencies, Non-Profits, and Code Enforcement Agencies. MEEA invited experts from across the Midwest and Nation to discuss timely topics related to building energy code adoption, compliance and enforcement – these are described below.

Commercial Energy Codes 101

Conference attendees enjoyed a breakfast of champions by learning about the Model Commercial Energy Code (ASHRAE 90.1-2013) to start the conference. Although this presentation was extra credit for those early risers, attendees were in their seats, eager to gain a better understanding of the Commercial Energy Code.


Introduction to Building Energy Codes

To “officially” start the day, Isaac Elnecave welcomed everyone to the conference and discussed the purpose of the Codes Conference. This was also a time to recap energy code successes in various states in the Midwest. A MEEA recap sheet can be found in the link below.

  • Status of Midwest States

Panel 1: Multifamily Energy Efficiency and Codes

Multifamily buildings tend to be the odd building out when it comes to energy codes. This panel discussed the unique difficulties multifamily buildings face in terms of air leakage testing and lays out a rationale for developing a single energy code for multifamily buildings, instead of splitting them between the Residential and Commercial chapters in the IECC.

  • Air Leakage Testing in Multifamily Buildings

Frank Spevak, The Energy Conservatory

  • Multifamily Initiative – Realignment of the IECC for Multifamily Buildings

Jim Edelson, New Buildings Institute

Panel 2: Multifamily Compliance Code Official Forum

Given that multifamily buildings are split between two chapters in the IECC and certain code requirements are difficult to meet, there are often buildings that fail to comply with the energy code. During this panel, local code officials discuss common compliance issues they uncover when inspecting multifamily buildings in the field. Alison Lindburg from MEEA takes the following code officials through a series of pointed questions and the audience works together to discuss possible solutions.


  • Richard Burton, Building and Safety Department, City of Lincoln, NE
  • Emily Hoffman, NYC Department of Buildings, NYC, NY
  • Tim Manz, Building Inspection Department, City of Blaine, MN
  • Tom Vanover, Building and Housing, City of Cleveland


Panel 3: Making Multifamily High Performance

It is often said that building affordable multifamily projects with energy efficient features that go above the Model Energy Code is impossible due to funding constraints. However, the speaker in this panel put that myth to rest with several examples of how his firm is bringing Net-Zero (buildings that produce more energy than they consume) to affordable multifamily buildings. Tim McDonald understands that, in order for a building to truly be affordable, one must consider the cost of construction and long-term energy costs to the renter.

  • The PFHA Project – A National Net-Zero Energy-Capable Affordable Housing Initiative

Tim McDonald, Onion Flats


Panel 4:  2018 IECC Development Process

Over the past year, building efficiency stakeholders recommended changes to the 2018 IECC and met twice to hash out these proposals during the development process. The IECC is updated every three years and the final vote on this update took place at the beginning of November. This presentation discussed how the code is developed and what changes might be included once the 2018 IECC is finalized.

  • Potential Changes in the IECC

Eric Makela, Cadmus Group

Panel 5: Water Efficiency in the Code

Although water use is not regulated in the Model Energy Code, these presenters talk about the potential to save energy when water use is reduced in buildings.  These speakers recommend two different approaches to reduce water use in buildings, one is through added language in the energy code and the other is by using a water modeling program called the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS).

  • Saving Energy and Water in the Energy Code

Karen Hobbs, National Resources Defense Council

  • Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)

Mike Collignon, Green Builder ® Coalition

Panel 6: Lighting up the Commercial Code

Day one finished with an in-depth discussion on the often mysterious lighting portion in the Model Commercial Energy Code. Learn about some of the energy considerations lighting designers make on a daily basis with this presentation.

  • Lighting Requirements in the Commercial Energy Code

Eric Richman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory


Networking Dinner: After a long day in the classroom, attendees were ready to explore the Cleveland nightlife.

Energy Codes Conference Recap: Day 2

Panel 1: Ventilation

The residential chapter in the Model Energy Code requires that buildings meet and are verified to have a certain level of air leakage As builders begin to push the envelope (pun intended) and buildings become tighter, the type and rate of mechanical ventilation becomes a hot topic of discussion. This presenter outlines the various types of mechanical ventilation and displays best practices for tight and efficient homes.

  • Best Practices for Performance Whole House Mechanical Ventilation

Patrick Huelman, University of Minnesota Extension

Panel 2: Commercial Compliance Studies

Compliance studies are an effective approach to understanding how buildings are being constructed and outline the aspects of the energy code that engineers, designer’s, and builders could use additional training. During this panel we heard from three speakers on different ways to develop and implement a commercial compliance study in the field.

  • Measuring what Matters: A Methodology for Moving from Code Compliance Assessment to Code Evaluation

Poppy Storm, Ecotope, Inc.

  • Commercial Energy Codes Support Pilot Program – Assessing Commercial Energy Code Savings

Russ Landry, Center for Energy and Environment

  • DOE Commercial Building Compliance FOA

David Cohan, Department of Energy

Panel 3: Testing Commercial Buildings

Although conducting a blower door test is not a requirement in the Commercial Model Energy Code, this is a clear path to achieve deeper energy savings in all building types. In this panel we hear about the recent adoption of the 2015 IECC in NYC which includes an amendment to require blower door tests on certain commercial building types.

  • NYC Energy Conservation Code

Emily Hoffman, NYC Buildings Department

Panel 4:  Getting to a Zero Energy Ready Code

This panel brought in energy code experts to discuss how to achieve more robust energy codes in jurisdictions and states throughout the nation. With the development of stretch codes, these areas have become efficiency leaders with the adoption of codes that go above the Model Energy Code. Our speakers and attendees discussed the potential for this energy code mechanism to eventually move the Model Energy Code from its current level to a zero energy code.

  • Stretch Codes in the United States

Alison Lindburg, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

  • Net Zero Reach in California

Cathy Chappell, TRC Energy Services

  • NYStretch – Energy: Development of Model Provisions for Voluntary Local Adoption in New York

Jim Edelson, New Buildings Institute

Thank You

A big thanks to all our Super Energy Code professionals for making this Codes Conference another success – we couldn’t have done it without you!