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ENERGY

Frequently Asked Questions

January 2011

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), signed by President Barak Obama in February of 2009, was designed to spur economic development and energy conservation, and included increasing the strictness of building energy codes.

The 2010 edition of the Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State (ECCCNYS) satisfies ARRA's more stringent requirements. The new version of the ECCCNYS became effective on December 28, 2010, and is now applicable in all parts of New York State.

New York State, as part of a plan to achieve at least 90 percent compliance with the ECCCNYS in all new and renovated residential and commercial buildings, has launched a major training and code enforcement support initiative through the New York State Department of State partnering with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The NYSDOS and NYSERDA collaboration will achieve the highest possible the rate of compliance with the ECCCNYS by providing training support to the design, construction and code enforcement community, covering provisions of the ECCCNYS and the 2010 Residential Code of New York State (RCNYS).

For information on these programs, please visit http://www.nyserdacodetraining.com.

For information on how to purchase the ECCCNYS and/or the RCNYS, go to www.ICCSAFE.org.

For free versions of the REScheck/COMcheck software that references the ECCCNYS, please go to www.energycodes.gov.

In response to inquiries on the 2010 ECCCNYS
(and corresponding provisions in the RCNYS),
the following questions and answers are presented to provide support and clarification.

The provisions of the ECCCNYS applicable to one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses are also found in the RCNYS.


Question No. 1
Is a "blower door test" required for all new homes covered under the RCNYS and/or the ECCCNYS to determine whether a home has been properly sealed from losing conditioned air?

Question No. 2
Is the ECCCNYS interchangeable with the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for residential construction and the American Society of Heating and Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 90.1-2007 for commercial construction?

Question No. 3
Are New York State municipalities affected by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and if so, how?

Question No. 4
For residential use, is spray foam permitted to create a "conditioned attic assembly" by spraying the foam directly on the underside of the roof rafters without ventilation above or below the foam?

Question No. 5
Do you need to apply a thermal barrier or ignition barrier to the surface of spray foam in attics and according to Section 314.4 of the RCNYS, is this type of space considered the "interior of a building"?

Question No. 6
Can a residential building complying with the ECCCNYS or the RCNYS use exposed spray foam to seal the sill plate rim joist area at the perimeter of the basement?

Question No. 7
Is a "duct blaster" test required for all new homes covered under the RCNYS or the ECCCNYS to determine if a home's supply and return ducts have been properly sealed from losing conditioned air?

Question No. 8
Will the ECCCNYS increase costs to local governments?

Question No. 9
Will light benefits be provided in the ECCCNYS for new home buyers?

Question No. 10
Are snow melt system controls required in the ECCCNYS and RCNYS for all buildings?

Question No. 11
Does the ECCCNYS allow, in certain conditions, the use of latex or enamel paint (on the inside surface of the sheetrock or other interior materials) to meet mandatory vapor retarder requirements of Section 402.5 of the ECCCNYS (instead of sheets of polyethylene or kraft paper behind the sheetrock)?

Question No. 12
Is there now a definition of "Area Weighted Average" in Chapter 2 of the 2010 ECCCNYS?

Question No. 13
Is a new pool installation regulated by the ECCCNYS-2010 and RCNYS-2010 for both commercial and residential installations?

Question No. 14
A swimming pool has a pump for the filter and does not have a heater. Does the pump need a timer switch per section 403.9.2?

Question No. 15
Is there a requirement for automatic exterior commercial building lighting controls?

Question No. 16
Does the ARRA require the New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code (the Energy Code) to be updated to certain codes or standards?


Question No. 1
Is a "blower door test" required for all new homes covered under the RCNYS and/or the ECCCNYS to determine whether a home has been properly sealed from losing conditioned air?
 
Answer
No, the use of a blower door test is not required. However, the use of such a test is one of two optional means of showing compliance with certain requirements of the ECCCNYS. Building envelope air-tightness and proper insulation installation are requirements of the Energy Code, which are found in the ECCCNYS Section 402.4.2 for air sealing and insulation. The Energy Code allows, as Option #1, an ACH 50 infiltration test (less than 7 ACH when tested with a blower door at a pressure of 50 Pascals). This is specified in Chapter 4 of the ECCCNYS (and Chapter 11 of the RCNYS) for proof of air sealing of the building envelope. The Code user would have the option of employing this method, or specifying that the building meets the visual inspection Option #2 requiring an extensive inspection of the building envelope for proper insulation installation and air sealing of the building envelope during the process of construction.
The use of Option #1 has the potential for reducing inspection costs to the code enforcement authority/municipality, since a qualified tester would generally be employed to perform the blower door test, and would certify the results of the building envelope test to the code enforcement authority/municipality. Testing shall occur after rough-in (and after installation of penetrations/sealing) of the building envelope, including penetrations for utilities, plumbing, electrical, ventilation and combustion appliances. Option #2 allows for a visual inspection by the code enforcement official or, at the code official's option, a third party inspection service acceptable to the code enforcement official. This must be an independent inspector not in the employ of the general contractor or the insulation firm.
Both options can potentially reduce costs to the municipality. For the testing option, a qualified tester would perform the blower door test and certify the results to the code enforcement official. For the visual inspection option, at the CEO's discretion, an independent third party inspection service may perform this task.


Question No. 2
Is the ECCCNYS interchangeable with the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for residential construction and the American Society of Heating and Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 90.1-2007 for commercial construction

Answer
No, the ECCCNYS is not interchangeable with the IECC 2009 for residential construction and ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007 for commercial construction. The ECCCNYS is more restrictive. It has been modified from the IECC 2009 through the state code adoption procedure to reflect the requirements and policies of the New York State Energy Law. The US Department of Energy (DOE) sponsored REScheck and COMcheck software (available to download at www.energycodes.gov) has been created for New York State.
On the code “drop down” menu “New York” must be selected. Please note that for commercial construction, the code option for ASHRAE 90.1-2007 may also be selected.
The compliance printout must indicate "2010 New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code" report for submission with a permit application when this method of compliance is used. For commercial construction, either "2010 New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code," or ASHRAE 90.1-2007 must be indicated on the compliance printout.


Question No. 3
Are New York State municipalities affected by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and if so, how?

Answer
Yes, the ECCCNYS is now the Energy Code in New York State, and must be enforced by all cities, towns, villages, and counties that are responsible for administering and enforcing the Energy Code. In addition, pursuant to a recently enacted amendment to Article 11 of the New York State Energy Law, the Department of State will soon begin the process of developing and adopting regulations relating to annual measurements of compliance with the new ECCCNYS. Municipalities will be required to measure compliance in accordance with those regulations. To assist municipalities in fulfilling their enforcement responsibilities, a complete set of the newly adopted code books (including the newly adopted ECCCNYS) will be distributed to municipalities. Extensive training will also be provided to municipal code enforcement officials and to design professionals and others involved in the construction industry. The Code books and training will be provided, in whole or in substantial part, with funding provided to New York State by the Federal government through ARRA.


Question No. 4
For residential use, is spray foam permitted to create a "conditioned attic assembly" by spraying the foam directly on the underside of the roof rafters without ventilation above or below the foam?

Answer
Yes.  In one- and two- family dwellings and townhouses, sections 402.2.1.1 of the ECCCNYS-2010 and Sections 804.4 & 1102.2.1.1 of the RCNYS-2010 permit an “unvented attic” under specified conditions and requirements using air-impermeable insulation (e.g., spray foam) to control moisture. Air-impermeable insulation must meet ASTM E283 and the Code-required thickness determined by climate design zone.  Coincidentally, the unvented attic sealing approach allows for downsizing of the mechanical systems by a significant percentage by ACCA Manual J (See RCNYS -1401.3).  Ventilation of the dwelling unit to limit moisture development is required as specified in Chapters 3, 4, and 15 of the Residential Code of New York State. Although not a code requirement, an air-to-air heat exchanger (Heat Recovery Ventilator -HRV or Energy Recovery Ventilator -ERV) is a very good idea for a house with spray foam insulation, which would serve to further limit moisture accumulation in the building.


Question No. 5
Do you need to apply a thermal barrier or ignition barrier to the surface of spray foam in attics and according to Section 314.4 of the RCNYS, is this type of space considered the "interior of a building"?

Answer
The RCNYS-2010 Sections 314.5.3 and 314.5.4 permit spray foam without an ignition barrier in spaces that are not occupied and where there are no utilities requiring service (Section M1305.1.3).  Foam must meet the test requirements specified in Section 314.6.  If the attic is considered interior space, foam must be covered by gypsum wall board or an alternate finish material (Section 314.4). The application and allowable installations may be detailed in an “Engineering Services Report” produced by the International Codes Council for the particular material in question. Where allowed by the ESR report, the foam may be left uncovered per RCNYS-2010.


Question No. 6
Can a residential building complying with the ECCCNYS or the RCNYS use exposed spray foam to seal the sill plate rim joist area at the perimeter of the basement?

Answer
Yes.  Spray foam insulation with a density of 0.5 to 2.0 pounds per cubic foot sprayed to a thickness of 3 1/4 inches or less is permitted to be spray applied to a sill plate, header, and rim joists without a thermal barrier.


Question No. 7
Is a "duct blaster" test required for all new homes covered under the RCNYS and/or the ECCCNYS to determine if a home's supply and return ducts have been properly sealed from losing conditioned air?

Answer
No, provided that the heating and cooling ductwork is completely contained within the conditioned building envelope. Sealing of duct work is a mandatory requirement of the current ECCCNYS and will continue in the updated Energy Code for 2010. The requirement for testing of the completed ductwork (known as CFM 25: “the duct blaster test”) are waived if the air handler and ducts are located completely within the conditioned building envelope.
As an example, if a furnace and ductwork are located within a basement space, and the basement enclosing walls and the floor joist perimeter (band joist directly above) have been insulated in accordance with requirements of the (RCNYS-2010), and /or ECCCNYS-2010 , the ductwork is considered to be located within conditioned space, and qualifies for the exemption to duct testing. If the HVAC ductwork for heating and or cooling are located outside of the conditioned envelope (for example, a central AC or furnace in the attic, above the insulation), then the ductwork requires testing per CFM 25, or duct blaster test, as well as insulation of the ductwork per code requirements.


Question No. 8
Will the ECCCNYS increase costs to local governments?

Answer
Costs for localities are potentially reduced due to the added clarity and the potential use of proving technologies such as the air seal tests such as the blower door or duct blaster described above for Residential construction. Insulation and building envelop sealing (see Table 402.4.2 ECCCNYS-2010 or Table 1102.4.2 RCNYS-2010) may be provided by third party energy professionals and certified to the municipality thereby potentially saving time and manpower for the municipality.


Question No. 9
Will light benefits be provided in the ECCCNYS for new home buyers?

Answer
Yes. New homes are required to have high efficacy lamps (40-60 lumens per watt based upon wattage size) in at least one-half of all permanent lighting fixtures installed by the builder. Examples of such bulbs are compact fluorescent bulbs, T-8 lamps, or the newer LED (light emitting diode) bulbs


Question No. 10
Are snow melt system controls required in the ECCCNYS and RCNYS for all buildings?

Answer
Snow-and ice-melting systems, when provided, and when power is supplied from a building, shall include automatic controls capable of shutting off the system when the pavement temperature is above 50ºF and no precipitation is falling and an automatic or manual control that will allow shutoff when the outdoor temperature is above 40ºF. This is requirement is applicable for both Residential and Commercial buildings.


Question No. 11
Does the ECCCNYS allow, in certain conditions, the use of latex or enamel paint (on the inside surface of the sheetrock or other interior materials) to meet mandatory vapor retarder requirements of Section 402.5 of the ECCCNYS (instead of sheets of polyethylene or kraft paper behind the sheetrock)?

Answer
Class III vapor retarders are accepted in design, and climate conditions which are defined in the ECCCNYS-2010 and/or RCNYS. 2010. Research indicates that the use of flexible vapor retarders, rather than vapor barriers are more advantageous, allowing building insulation to “dry out” rather than using a very low perm rating barrier, which tend to trap moisture within the building cavity. This approach (as well as others contained here) has been vetted nationally by the ICC process. Polyethylene vapor retarders (which are actually vapor barriers) are seen as undesirable in today’s advanced construction techniques. 
The code states that latex or enamel paint as the interior finish shall be considered a class III vapor retarder (class III defined as 1.0 < perm < 10 perm) which is now permitted to be the  required vapor retarder in certain conditions, such as the use of a vented building cladding.


Question No. 12
Is there now a definition of "Area Weighted Average" in Chapter 2 of the 2010 ECCCNYS?

Answer
Yes, as follows: AREA WEIGHTED AVERAGE.  A mathematical technique for combining different amounts of various components, based on proportional relevance, into a single number. Weighted averaging may be used where there is more than one R-value for floor, wall, or ceiling insulation, or more than one U-factor for fenestration in a building. As an example, the area weighted average for window fenestration U-factors equals (Area 1 x U-factor 1) + (Area 2 x U-factor 2) + …/Total Area = maximum allowable fenestration U-factor.  (See related sections 402.6 and 502.2.1 of the ECCCNYS-2010)


Question No. 13
Is a new pool installation regulated by the ECCCNYS-2010 and RCNYS-2010 for both commercial and residential installations?

Answer
Yes, pool heaters shall have an accessible manual on-off switch in addition to automatic controls, have no continuous natural gas pilot flames, and shall have automatic time switches to turn off pool heaters and pumps according to a preset schedule.  Also heated pools shall be equipped with a vapor retardant pool cover on or at the water surface and if the water is heated to 90oF or more the pool cover shall have a minimum insulation value of R-12 (see exceptions for renewable fuel heated or electric pumping). This is now a requirement for both Residential and Commercial new pool installations. Refer to Sections 403.9 and 504.7 of the ECCCNYS-2010 and Sections 1103.8 of the RCNYS-2010


Question No. 14
A swimming pool has a pump for the filter and does not have a heater. Does the pump need a timer switch per section 403.9.2?

Answer
Whenever a swimming pool pump is present a timer switch is required. If a swimming pool heater is present a timer switch is required. It is not intended that these be required to be controlled by the same timer switch.


Question No. 15
Is there a requirement for automatic exterior commercial building lighting controls?

Answer
All exterior lighting, when not specifically exempted by the ECCCNYS-2010/ASHRAE 90.1-2007 must have automatic shutoff either when sufficient daylight is available or the lighting is no longer required to be operating during the night. Lighting designated for dusk-to-dawn operation therefore must be controlled by a photo sensor (daylight) or astronomical time switch (scheduling).  ECCCNYS-2010, Section 505.5.1 describes the procedure for adding up the total connected interior lighting power in a building. ECCCNYS-2010 now includes a significant number of new exceptions. These exemptions, in language converging with ASHRAE 90.1-2007, are included. Refer to ECCCNYS-2010 and/or ASHRAE 90.1-2007, for specific exemptions.


Question No. 16
Does the ARRA require the New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code (the Energy Code) to be updated to certain codes or standards?

Answer
As stated in the introduction to this document, ARRA requires states that receive support to adopt building energy codes at least as stringent as the IECC 2009 for residential buildings and at least as stringent as ASHRAE 90.1-2007 for commercial buildings. The IECC 2009 and ASHRAE 90.1 documents have undergone development in a national, open consensus, expert review process.  The ECCCNYS-2010 is at least as stringent as IECC 2009 for residential buildings and is at least as stringent as ASHRAE 90.1-2007 for commercial buildings and, accordingly, the ECCCNYS-2010 satisfies ARRA’s requirements.  The ECCCNYS-2010 is now in effect as the Energy Code in New York State, with an effective date of December 28, 2010.



For More Information, Contact:
Joseph Hill, R.A.
Assistant Director for Energy Services
New York State Department of State Division of Building Standards and Codes
One Commerce Plaza, 99 Washington Avenue, Suite 1160, Albany, NY 12231
Phone: 518-474-4073
Fax: 518-474-5788