October 6, 2010
Upcoming Decisions On Energy Provisions To Have Major Impact On CFS Framing

For the past 18 months, the Steel Framing Alliance and our allies in the steel and building industries have been engaged in a lengthy debate at various codes and standards venues on the future of energy code requirements.  Many proposals and counter proposals have been debated – some of which address valid concerns but many others that threaten the competitive position of steel framing. 

Over the next few weeks, final deliberations on two major fronts will settle the debate and determine exactly what the industry will be facing over the next few years (see sidebar on the IECC).

The two fronts of the debate are within the International Code Council (ICC), publishers of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, publishers of the ASHRAE 90.1 standard for energy efficiency in commercial buildings as well as residential buildings over 3 stories in height. 

The ASHRAE 90.1 standard is adopted by reference as an alternative compliance path within the IECC and is frequently incorporated into Federal and other government specification requirements.

Importance of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) – Why it matters?

The IECC is vital to everyone in the building industry.  Even if you are in a state that has had no energy code or its own code in the past, that is about to change. 

The 2010 ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), sometimes called the “Stimulus” act, has some strings attached for states that accepted Federal Funds.  One such string is a requirement to adopt the 2009 and 2012 IECC when it becomes available.  Enforcement is already beginning in many states.
In previous issues of Framework Online we have addressed why these standards are important to the CFS industry. To recap, the main issues are related to requirements in almost every climate zone for exterior continuous foam insulation in thicknesses of 4 inches or greater.
These requirements, besides putting CFS at a competitive disadvantage when compared with other materials, far surpass current practice and pose serious fire safety and siding attachment challenges.

On September 20, SFA was granted an appeal hearing before ASHRAE to make our case that the requirements are neither technically feasible or practical, nor even close to cost-effective. 

There are many other cost-effective ways to improve the energy performance of buildings.  SFA requested that ASHRAE maintain the existing 2007 insulation requirements until the fire and siding attachment issues are resolved.  The results of our appeal are pending but expected to be released just prior to the Final Action Hearings on the IECC to be held by the ICC beginning October 28 in Charlotte, NC.

Here’s how you can help

SFA will be present at the Charlotte hearings to defend our industry’s interests.  This is where you can help.  The final decisions on the code are made by ICC building official members who attend the hearings.  Many of you have contacts with code officials who will be attending the hearings. 

We are asking SFA members, especially those in the Charlotte area and surrounding states that will be well-represented at the hearings, to help us educate building officials on the implications of specific code change proposals.

Perhaps the most significant change on the agenda is proposal number EC-157.  This proposal was passed at the first set of hearings.  Although we would like to see EC-157 overturned until the fire and structural issues are addressed, it does represent the most favorable of the proposals that are up for consideration.  However, there are several public comments that are attempting to significantly increase EC-157 insulation requirements even further.  SFA will oppose the modifications to EC-157 and, if the opportunity presents itself, join with others to call for the ICC members to overturn the original decision to adopt EC-157 altogether.

For those of you who wish to help in this effort, we urge you to contact your code officials with the CFS industry’s concerns.   SFA is working with a consortium of industry allies on a united position on the IECC proposals.  We will post a fact sheet of the consortium’s positions prior to the Charlotte hearings.  Look for an email to all SFA members notifying you of the posting.  In the meantime, if you or your code officials have specific questions, please contact us on the steel hotline at 1-(800) 79 STEEL. 

Editor, Framework Online

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Brought to you by the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA) on the first Wednesday of each month, February through December. Framework Online arms you with important news and commentary on the cold-formed steel (CFS) framing and construction industries.