WAMC New England News
10:59 am
Wed April 21, 2010

Stretch Code OK'd in Pittsfield

Pittsfield, MA – Massachusetts is set to enact its new building energy codes this summer which call for 15 percent more efficient buildings. Some communities are adopting an even more rigorous standard known as the stretch code. WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief Charlie Deitz reports that Pittsfield recently adopted the stretch code, putting the city in line for more state funding, but the city council is split over the decision

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Summary of the Massachusetts Building Code Appendix 120.AA, Stretch' Energy Code Appendix 120.AA known as the "stretch code" was adopted by the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards in May 2009, as an optional appendix to the Massachusetts Building Code 780 CMR.

This optional "stretch code" was developed in response to the call for improved building energy efficiency in Massachusetts. Towns and cities in the Commonwealth may adopt Appendix 120.AA in place of the energy efficiency requirements of the "base" building code. In addition, the "base" building energy code in Massachusetts are now updated in 2010 to the recently published IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) 2009 energy code1. The "stretch code" is similarly based on the IECC 2009 energy code, but with approximately 20% greater building efficiency requirements, with a move towards 3rd party testing and rating of building energy performance. 780 CMR 120 AA may be adopted or rescinded by any municipality in the commonwealth in the manner prescribed by law.

If adopted by a municipality this appendix, rather than 780 CMR 13, 34, 61, or 93, as applicable, shall govern. Stretch code provisions Residential - New Construction New residential buildings 3 stories or less will be required to meet an energy performance standard using the Home Energy Rating System2 (HERS). The HERS index scores a home on a scale where 0 is a zero-net-energy home, and 100 is a code compliant new home (currently based on the IECC 2006 code). The HERS index has been in use for many years by beyond code programs such as Energy Star Homes, and LEED for Homes, and by the Federal IRS for tax credits and energy efficient mortgages. HERS ratings are performed by an independent HERS rater, working with the home builder, and then submitted to the local building code official. The MA stretch code requires a HERS index of 65 or less for new homes of 3,000 square feet or above, and 70 or less for new homes below 3,000 square feet (this includes multi-family units in buildings of 3 stories or less).

A HERS index of 65 means that the home is estimated to use 65% as much energy as the same home built to the 2006 energy code, or a 35% annual energy savings. 1 The Green Communities Act of 2008 requires that Massachusetts adopt each new IECC within one year of its release, the IECC is updated on a 3 year cycle so the next version will be IECC 2012. 2 For a summary of the HERS index see: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=bldrs_lenders_raters.nh_HERS