Building Science

Code Q&A: Continuous Insulation

The 2015 IECC energy codes mean changes for energy efficiency and other building performance measures.

Question: The 2015 IECC ener­gy codes will be adopt­ed by The State of Texas in Sep­tem­ber 2016. What does this mean for the design and con­struc­tion of new build­ings in Texas?

Answer: The 2015 Inter­na­tion­al Ener­gy Con­ser­va­tion Code (IECC) code affects hun­dreds of details in the design, con­struc­tion, and com­mis­sion­ing of com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial build­ings in Texas. The intent of this mod­el code is to improve the ener­gy effi­cien­cy of build­ing envelopes, light­ing and mechan­i­cal sys­tems through require­ments that empha­size per­for­mance. For com­mer­cial build­ings in cities and munic­i­pal­i­ties that will move their ener­gy code from 2009 to 2015, this means a 26 per­cent increase in over­all build­ing ener­gy effi­cien­cy (an 8 per­cent jump from 2012 to 2015).

To achieve this lev­el of per­for­mance, the code requires sig­nif­i­cant improve­ments to the build­ing enve­lope com­pared to pre­vi­ous ver­sions of the code. In par­tic­u­lar, the codes are vir­tu­al­ly man­dat­ing the use of con­tin­u­ous insu­la­tion sys­tems to reduce the per­for­mance-rob­bing effects of ther­mal bridg­ing. For new build­ings using cav­i­ty con­struc­tion meth­ods, adding lay­ers of con­tin­u­ous insu­la­tion increase design com­plex­i­ty and may increase con­struc­tion costs, while also intro­duc­ing new fire safe­ty issues. Insu­lat­ed con­crete block meets require­ments for con­tin­u­ous insu­la­tion with only one addi­tion­al lay­er need­ed in most cli­mates, usu­al­ly an air and mois­ture bar­ri­er.

So whether you are work­ing on res­i­den­tial or com­mer­cial con­struc­tion, bring us your 2015 IECC code ques­tions. Because for archi­tects, devel­op­ers and build­ing own­ers, the ben­e­fit of the Bau­tex Block wall sys­tem is that it exceeds the per­for­mance require­ments of the lat­est ener­gy code. It is a sin­gle inte­grat­ed wall sys­tem that is sim­ple to design and fast to con­struct and can be achieved at a cost that is com­pet­i­tive with more com­plex and low­er per­form­ing wall sys­tems.