New York State Energy Codes


New York State Energy Codes

By Gerard Hillenbrand, P.E.

That was the important subject presented at New York Chapter’s Technical Dinner Meeting on may 21, 2008. This presentation featured several speakers who had prominent roles in drafting the provisions of the N.Y. state energy conservation construction code # ECCNYS-2007. The code’s speakers where:_

  • Michael Burnetter, P.E., N.Y. Department of State, Division of Code Enforcement & Administration.
  • John Hill, R.A., N.Y. Department of State, Assistant Director of Energy Services.
  • Debra Taylor, A.I.A., Lead A.P., N.Y. City Building Department’s Division of Technical Affairs, Chief Sustainability Officer.

This presentation featured an excellent slide display summarizing the code’s detailed requirements and professional registered attendees qualified to earn one PDH credit toward their continuing education licensing mandates. This Presentation was co-sponsored by the metropolitan section of ASME.

The code #ECCCNYS-2007 is in compliance with the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Energy and the International Construction Code and recommends extensive use of N.Y. State’s updated web site, field offices, hot lines, and opportunities for online training and assistance. This code regulates the design and construction of building for the effective and economical use of energy. The necessity for these regulations is obvious in view of the worldwide shortage of energy and the recent major price increases. While very specific and detail oriented, this code has been formulated to provide flexibility to accommodate new and innovative developments designed to conserve energy use.

The code defines “commercial buildings” as all non-residential structures and all buildings four or more stories tall regardless of any residential floors. Local municipalities are encouraged to develop codes and techniques providing more stringent energy conservation than the state code. Compliance with the new code requirements must be demonstrated by one of the following methods:_

  • Option – 1 is the software method which generates an energy rating subject to code department approval. If acceptable, compliance documents are issued.
  • Option – 2 is the submission of written documentation along with relevant construction design data.
  • Option – 3 is the simulated performance alternative in which modeling software is used to document that a proposed design has an annual energy cost equal to or less than a standard reference design covering all building elements.
  • Option – 4 is the method used to show that the proposed building has energy efficiency exceeding all national, state, or local codes.

The code requirements only apply to the new area additions to existing residences.

After approval, a permanent certificate completed by a registered design professional must be posted listing R-Valves of roof, walls, ductwork, and foundations, U-Factors of all windows, building infiltration valves, and energy levels of all mechanical equipment. The code establishes minimum thermal resistance requirements for all elements including specific glazing applications to glass. Mechanical equipment must provide a minimum of 5.5 fresh air changes per hour at efficiencies of 80% or greater. The code includes thermal resistance requirements for varying climate zones in a building as well as special factors for isolated rooms and sunrooms. All heating and cooling systems must have programmable thermostats, and conform to all ASHRAE regulations, including the latest upgrades. The state code also conforms with the guidelines of the green building movement. Basically, all buildings are subject to code regulations including factories and warehouses.

Because of the unusual height and high density of commercial buildings in New York City, the state code establishes unique requirements for these structures, in cooperation with the N.Y. City building department. The aim is to achieve 50% or more increases in energy efficiency over the existing structures. Insulation requirements are specified as well as window specifications, vapor and moisture control, air leakage, hot water heating, and electrical lighting standards. Special credits are granted for roof overhangs and projections and windows, skylights, and doors must pass an air leakage test. Shutoff dampers are required for outdoor air and return ducts to minimize energy losses and ice formation on roofs and building facades. Once again, each heating and cooling system must have a least one solid state programmable thermostat. 60 to 70 years old mechanical thermostats are no longer acceptable. All pipes in air conditioning systems must be insulated as well as all ducts and plenums. Joints, seems and connections must be securely fastened and ordinary duct tape is not permitted.

In commercial buildings of the common type in N.Y. City, HVAC systems are usually very complex, including multiple service zones, variable speed air volume drivers, and closed loop hot water distribution and return systems. All systems with cooling capacity greater than 65,000 btu/hour must employ outside economizer units circulating 100% outside air with coordinated damper controls, preferably motorized to automatically shut when systems and/or spaces are not in use. With these complex systems, heating and cooling loads and sizing of components must be calculated in accordance with HVAC guidelines published by ASHRAE. Each component used must have a guaranteed minimum efficiency and controls which provide automatic time clocks and programmable equipment for off-hour standby usage. Variable speed drives for fans and pumps are required and may be of the purely mechanical type or the electrical variable frequency type. Each fan motor equal to or greater than 7 ½ HP must be capable of being reversed so as to provide rejection of excess heat. All complex HVAC systems must pass tests for balancing the systems under various operating conditions and the system’s designers and builders must provide operators. Water heating systems must include independent heat recovery provisions. Ventilation systems must include equipment for drawing in outside fresh air and the trend to lose efficiency, compromising the quality of indoor air. Constant monitoring and maintenance programs are strongly recommended.

In N.Y. City approximately 27% of energy consumption is devoted to building lighting. Hence, controlling the density of light within and outside a building is essential to energy savings. High efficiency list sources such as fluorescent, metal halide, and high pressure sodium are required for corridors, walkways and parking areas. All indoor areas must have light reduction controls in addition to on-off switches. Exit signs must be of the LED or self-illuminating type. Even more demanding provisions are required for hotels, including high efficiency lamps and fixtures, electronic ballasts, and emergency lighting for stairwells, corridors, and conference areas. After construction is completed, the lighting system must undergo an energy consumption test at maximum lighting power and the recorded consumption must be less or equal to the design power usage. If there are cases of non-compliance, reductions are mandated. Similarly, tests are required to evaluate the energy performance of the total building on an annual basis. Once again, when total energy consumption exceeds design parameters, revisions must be made and these changes may include additional glazing on glass facades, and the possible use of special components such as solar panels, photovoltaic cells, batter storage, and geothermal energy systems. These revisions must also conform to ASHRAE regulations and the construction guidelines sponsored by the NYSERDA and Lead organizations.

The questions and answer period covered such subjects as the more toxic atmospheres caused by sealed windows and the increased prevalence of corrosive chemicals resulting from the unregulated disposal of fluorescent, halide and sodium lighting implements. Also, new building in compliance with regulations may qualify for tax relief and/or credits. Attendees were urged to make frequent, in-depth use of the state, city and building department web sites when confronting issues raised by the new energy code. Public hearings concerning the code’s application are scheduled periodically until September, 2008. Attendees were specifically invited to the N.Y. City buildings department’s public forum scheduled for Tuesday, June, 24th to express their concerns and to obtain official answers to their questions.

This was a constructive and very informative technical lecture. Good Job!!!

 Posted by at 4:00 pm