Article by GHBA Codes & Standards Chair Dave Yelovich, Tilson Home Corporation
Have you heard the big secret? Not many people know this but there are big changes coming in how we build houses in Texas. Yes, it might be scary but it is true. A new sheriff is coming and his term starts on September 1, 2016.
OK, here’s the skinny on the new sheriff. In the past legislative session a bill was passed that mandates a new minimum energy code for most new residential construction and some remodeling work. Shoot! This new code even sets standards for new pools and spas. House Bill 1736 does take effect on September 1, 2016. There are several key points to this legislation that will affect how you build.
The primary point of the bill is that is makes the energy provisions of the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC), also known as Chapter 11 of the IRC, the minimum standard for energy efficiency all across Texas. It also says that the state cannot adopt another energy code for 6 years. This is good news for those of us who think the 3-year code cycle is just too crazy to keep up with. Finally, the bill amends one of the compliance tools to make it a more attainable goal for those who choose that path of compliance.
How does this new code change how we build? There are many aspects that must be fully understood in order to comply. I urge you to reach out to your local HBA to find out when educational events will be hosted in your area so you can come to understand what this code entails. The single most important aspect of the new code is that all new homes must be tested. This includes testing the ducts for tightness and also doing a Blower Door Test on the house to check for overall air tightness of the home. This is huge.
In Climate Zone 2 (The southern part of Texas to the Hill Country) the maximum amount of air allowed to escape the house when tested is 5 ACH, or air changes per hour. This can be done as long as air tightening details are included in the construction of the home from installation of the sole plate up to how the finishing touches are done. In Climate Zones 3 and 4 in Texas (Roughly from midway between Houston and Dallas and then swinging southward out in the Hill Country) the maximum amount of air allowed to leak is limited to 3 ACH. That is a very tight structure that can only be achieved with good construction techniques and good supervision.
Air leakage, duct blaster test, air barriers, whole house ventilation, HERS, ERI, SEER, SHGC, U-Factors, R-Values, Compliance Methods, Mandatory Provisions, Stickers, Lighting, Insulated Headers, Ladder Tees, and so much more is mentioned in this new code. Are you ready for it? The energy parts of the 2015 IRC have dozens of items you need to be familiar with and you need to incorporate these into your projects starting in September.
September is just around the corner. You will not be able to simply flip a switch on that day to be compliant with this new code. Call your local HBA today and sign up for a class to begin to understand what is coming. The new sheriff has already been elected. Make sure you know the law and how you’ll comply.More Info on HB 1736