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.