The Economic Impact of the International Plumbing Code
A comparative analysis of model plumbing codes and their impact on construction, the economy, and the environment
The International Code Council commissioned a comprehensive independent analysis of plumbing codes to understand the costs and savings associated with building under the International Plumbing Code (IPC) in comparison to the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC).
The study evaluates multiple building types: a single-family home, an office, a hotel, a school, and a grocery store. In each building type, mechanical engineers applied both plumbing codes, IPC and UPC, to determine the material and building costs associated with each code.
Watch this video to learn more about how plumbing codes impact the world around us.
Click buttons below to read the Executive Summary and the Full Report of the Economic Impact of the International Plumbing Code.
Washington, D.C. – The International Code Council announced that Richard Anderson will be joining the organization as a Director of Plumbing, Mechanical, and Fuel Gas (PMG) Resources in the Government Relations Department. As part of his responsibilities, Anderson will work with the Code Council’s team of experts to develop, coordinate, and implement PMG programs and services related to the International Codes (I-Codes).
The building safety needs of communities are changing quickly, especially within the PMG space. Water is one of the most essential resources needed for human survival. As society continues to place a greater emphasis on the safety, affordability and resiliency of buildings, it is critical that those in the industry quickly adapt to meet these new priorities. Luckily, our building industry is aware of the long-lasting benefits it can bring to achieving the goal of water efficiency in both regional and global environments.
“Building codes and standards create an ecosystem of building policies that ensure the safety of our buildings and safeguard the health and wellbeing of building occupants,” said Dominic Sims, CBO, Chief Executive Officer, International Code Council. “As topics like water and energy efficiency become greater concerns for communities, we understand the importance of having a proven leader like Anderson join our team to provide his expertise and insights as a knowledgeable voice in this space.”
With 23 years of building safety and PMG experience, most recently Anderson represented the City of Fort Collins as a Chief Building Official where he oversaw the enforcement of all building codes for the city.
“Having long admired the Code Council’s work in building safety and having previously participated as a committee member for work group A IRC Plumbing and Mechanical, I am excited to join the organization,” said Anderson. “It is critical that the building safety industry both understands and adapts to the changing needs of society, and I cannot wait to lead the charge.”
Anderson will also oversee the Code Council’s new Conservation & Water Reuse Center, located in Colorado, which will provide resources for communities related to water efficiency and conservation.
For more information about the Code Council’s PMG program, click here.
About the International Code Council
The International Code Council is the leading global source of model codes and standards and building safety solutions. Code Council codes, standards and solutions are used to ensure safe, affordable and sustainable communities and buildings worldwide.
This week, the International Code Council launched its “Code on a Mission” challenge which aims to have over one-third of the U.S. population covered by the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) by the end of 2023.
As you know, the 2021 IECC saw significant improvements over the 2018 edition. At the same time, with the zero-energy building goals set forth by the U.S. Administration for new construction by 2030 and 2050 for all buildings, heightened pressure is being placed on governments and elements of the building industry to address the need to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs).
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has determined that that the residential provisions of the 2021 IECC provide a 9.4% improvement in energy use and an 8.7% improvement in carbon emissions over the 2018 IECC, saving homeowners an average of $2,320 over the life of a typical mortgage. Since 2006, the IECC has provided an approximately 40% improvement in energy efficiency, meaning that residents in states and cities on older IECC editions would see far greater savings. Energy codes continue to be an essential tool in achieving energy efficiency and GHG reduction goals and we are urging national, state and local governments to join the Code Council in this challenge.
We are challenging both the building industry and communities alike to update their building energy codes to meet or exceed the requirements of the 2021 IECC.
In support of the Code on a Mission challenge, the Code Council has developed a suite of resources:
Communities that regularly adopt the IECC save money for residents and business and improve community health and resilience. Some jurisdictions routinely augment the most recent model code with additional energy-saving code provisions or programs.
States are required to review their residential energy code and update their commercial energy code within two years of a positive determination from the Department of Energy that a new edition of the IECC saves energy.
On July 21, 2021, DOE Pacific Northwest Laboratory (PNNL) produced a final determination on the 2021 IECC representing a 9.4% site energy savings improvement and an 8.7% improvement in carbon emissions for residential buildings relative to the 2018 IECC, saving homeowners an average of $2,320 over the life of a typical mortgage.
The 2021 IECC represents an approximately 40% improvement in energy efficiency for residential and commercial buildings compared to the 2006 edition, meaning that residents in states and cities on older IECC editions would see far greater savings. The Department has also released data on energy, cost and GHG reductions each state and many cities could achieve by adopting the 2021 IECC, which are available here.
If all states updated to the 2021 IECC, nationally over 22,000 jobs would be created in the first year and over 632,000 jobs cumulatively over 30 years.
Each new edition of the energy code has provided for the cost-effective reduction of energy use. Implementation of the 2021 IECC is foundational to achieving energy savings and reductions on GHG emissions across building stock, both residential and commercial. According to the US Department of Energy, from 2010 to 2040, the model energy codes for residential and commercial buildings are projected to save:
$138 billion energy cost savings
900 MMT of avoided CO2 emissions
13.5 quads of primary energy
These savings equate to the annual emissions of:
195 million passenger vehicles
227 coal power plants
108 million homes
For perspective, the primary energy consumption of the entire U.S. commercial and residential sectors in 2020 was estimated at 38 quads.
New and updated provisions save energy, improve usability
Key changes to the 2021 IECC improve efficiency by 9.4 percent and reduce greenhouse gases by 8.7 percent over the 2018 IECC; these changes include new provisions that increase efficiency and encourage greater flexibility in design and construction as well as changes to existing requirements that provide clarification and improve usability of the code.
Three new additional energy efficient package options, as shown in the figure below, were added to the 2021 IECC. This addition brings the total number of energy efficiency compliance options to eleven. The purpose of this section is to provide flexibility to achieve the energy savings needed to meet the overall energy savings goal of the code. These additional requirements come into play during the design phase where the designer has chosen the Prescriptive Compliance option. Where a designer pursues compliance via meeting ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1 or is using the Total Building Performance approach, then Section C406 does not need to be addressed.
More efficient HVAC performance
Reduced lighting power
Enhanced lighting controls
On-site supply of renewable energy
Dedicated outdoor air systems
High-efficiency service water heating
Enhanced envelope performance
Reduced air infiltration
Energy monitoring system
Fault detection and diagnostics
Efficient kitchen equipment
New Tropical Climate Zone Compliance Path
Tropical areas vary from the United States mainland in climate, construction techniques and energy prices. The new Tropical Climate Zone Compliance Path recognizes traditional tropical design characteristics encompassing shading, natural ventilation and the value of cool roofs. Mainland U.S. residential construction trends can minimize fenestration area, rely on dark roofing materials and overlook the value of external shading. Applied in tropical regions, these mainland construction trends result in overheated dwellings where natural ventilation is ineffective, yet the buildings lack the insulation and air sealing appropriate for any conditioned space. Additionally, tropical electrical prices make air conditioning infeasible for many households and, likewise, provide a substantial incentive for energy conservation.
Adoptable Appendix for Net Zero Energy Buildings
The 2021 IECC includes Zero Code appendices for both residential and commercial buildings.
The residential Zero Code appendix is based on the Energy Rating Index (ERI) path of the code, which requires more efficiency than is required in the base code and requires enough onsite or offsite renewable energy production to achieve an ERI score of zero. Renewable energy compliance may happen through a combination of onsite power production, energy generated through community renewable energy facilities, and renewable energy purchase contracts or leases.
The commercial Zero Code appendix is based on the Architecture 2030 ZERO Code. It requires a building to meet the minimum code requirements, plus enough on-site or off-site renewable energy to compensate for all the energy anticipated to be consumed by the building.
The Net Zero Energy provisions included in the 2021 IECC are not mandatory unless specifically referenced in the adopting ordinance. The provisions are included as appendices with the intention to provide options for jurisdictions with ambitious climate goals.
More information on Net Zero Energy – Building Operation Decarbonization can be found here.
Compliance and Enforcement
Adoption of the most recent model energy code is the first step to tapping into to cost-effective energy savings. Adoption should be followed by training and full implementation of the adopted code.
Although there is significant evidence of the value of energy code implementation, studies also show millions of dollars of untapped energy savings in states across the country. DOE has also observed, across 7 states studied, that training code officials on adopted codes can help reduce annual energy costs due to varying levels of code compliance by an average of about 45 percent.
Assessing the current construction practices, establishing compliance and enforcement goals, and accessing intake plan review inspection tools are the first steps to successful compliance and enforcement. Training requirements are equally important. The gap that exists between the efficiency levels required in codes and the efficiency levels achieved in the field is influenced by the extent of code official training on the energy code. Although about two-thirds of states require code official certifications, only seven states require training on energy code provisions.
More information on IECC Compliance and Enforcement can be found here.
Considerations for Adopting the 2021 IgCC
The International Green Construction Code (IgCC) is a collaborative effort of the Code Council, ASHRAE, the Illuminating Engineering Society and the U.S. Green Building Council to provide adoptable code language for communities that want to go beyond requirements contained in base codes. Although a stretch code currently, the IgCC sets the direction for the future of high performance building. The IgCC provides the design and construction industry with the single, most effective way to deliver integrated energy conservation, water efficiency, site and material sustainability, land use, and indoor environmental quality. It is currently adopted or in use in 13 states and DC and by the General Services Administration and the Department of Defense.
The 2021 edition of the IgCC offers essential sustainable construction building blocks on which future resilient initiatives can develop and expand. As jurisdictions continue to go beyond base codes to meet their robust climate and energy efficiency goals, the IgCC will be a critical part of the toolkit. The new edition provides:
Written-in, enforceable code language and overlays with I-Codes;
Extended scope to all areas of sustainable buildings and sites beyond energy conservation provisions of the IECC;
Ability to customize which requirements to adopt through a Jurisdictional Options table;
Appendix L, which aligns IgCC requirements with core elements of LEED versions 4.0 and 4.1;
Appendix M, which provides options for residential compliance with the National Green Building Standard (ICC 700).
Social Media Resources
Here are seven digital cards that you can post on social media that showcase the energy savings and efficiency of the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code®. Each card is available in 1200x630 and 1080x1080 dimensions for a total of 14 cards.