In June, the Nebraska Energy Office completed a statewide check of commercial building code compliance with the Nebraska Energy Code, the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code, and found the compliance rate average for Nebraska was 83 percent. Two counties that represented more than half the buildings in the study rated 87 and 88 percent compliance. Under federal legislation, states are required to achieve 90 percent energy code compliance by 2017.
"We were very pleased the study showed compliance rates to be more than eighty percent," said Ginger Willson, Director of the Nebraska Energy Office. "The Energy Office has focused energy code trainings to builders and others before the code was adopted in 2011. This shows the trainings have paid off."
Thirty-eight buildings under construction across the state were selected with assistance from local code officials and contractors. The buildings analyzed represented a majority of typical commercial construction types: retail, education, office, warehouse, hotel and healthcare, all under two stories with a single HVAC system.
The study's contractor, Britt/Makela Group, assessed compliance within the state by utilizing U.S. Department of Energy-approved methodology, and worked with University of Nebraska College of Architecture students for data collection. The contractor provided training to the students on energy code requirements as well as how to check buildings for compliance. This was the only exposure most of the students had with energy codes, and allowed them to see "first hand" how inspections and permitting works.
"This project not only gives us a blueprint for future training needs, it has opened possibilities with the University of Nebraska in offering code education to students who want to work in the commercial and residential construction industry," added Willson.
The study also highlighted areas that need improvement: Lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are areas that were lacking in compliance, but it is a nationwide issue. "Nebraska is not the only state where you can find low compliance rates in the lighting and HVAC areas and we expected to see that," said Willson. "We plan to offer more lighting and HVAC trainings in the future."
The study, which can be found on the Energy Office Energy Codes webpage at was paid for with funds from the U.S. Department of Energy's State Energy Program.