August 21, 2020

BetterBuilt NW August 2020 Newsletter


2021 Code Changes in the Northwest - What You Need to Know
Codes are evolving in the Northwest. Each state in the region evaluates and updates their energy codes on a regular cycle (typically every three years). Over the past year, Idaho made a move to adopt the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), effective January 1, 2021. Idaho’s adoption of the 2018 IECC has a few amendments to the base code, but changes are minor and are intended to help smooth adoption (for instance, requiring a 20% compliance check for building tightness).

Washington state has adopted and extended the start date of their energy code (2018 Washington State Energy Code (WSEC), effective February 1, 2021. Stakeholders may be aware that the WSEC is a version of the IECC, but with some major amendments, primarily in sections 406.2 and 406.3, which direct builders to achieve points for adopting measures above and beyond the IECC base code. Section 406.2 applies a carbon adjustment to the point totals, requiring more points for electric resistance heated homes, no point adjustment for gas heated homes, and a one-point reduction in points needed if heating with a heat pump. Section 406.3 organizes measures and corresponding points to building assemblies and equipment such as building envelope, heating equipment, domestic hot water, and renewables.

Oregon is undergoing board meetings to determine what will be included in the upcoming Oregon Residential Specialty Code (ORSC). The Building Codes Division and Oregon Department of Energy (BCD and ODOE respectively) anticipate that by September or October of 2020 a final ORSC proposal will be presented with the intent that it should go live in April of 2021. It is not anticipated at this time that the energy portion of the ORSC will include aggressive changes, although the state awaits the final recommendations from the two contributing boards that are still meeting. Looking ahead, via Executive Order 20-04, BCD is required to adopt building energy efficiency goals for 2030 for new residential and commercial construction, representing a 60% reduction in new building annual site consumption of energy from the adopted 2006 Oregon codes.

Finally, Montana is looking to possibly adopt the 2018 IECC in 2021, but discussions and planning are still underway.

If you are a production builder, who builds more than 50 homes a year, or a volume rater, who rates or consults on more than 75 homes a year, in Washington and are looking for assistance with meeting the 2018 WSEC and would like to discuss options, processes, advanced measures, and using utility incentives and tax credits, please reach out to our team at and we will be happy to engage you and your trades to make this process as easy as possible.

Programs in the News
Every month BetterBuiltNW will highlight different programs in the news to keep builders and Raters/Verifiers informed about key updates, program changes, and highlights. This month’s Programs in the News features updates from RESNET on the Trends in HERS Rated Homes report and the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) on the 2020 Builder Practices report.

Trends in HERS® Rated Homes

RESNET released the Trends in HERS Rated Homes report that focuses on national trends for energy efficient building components in HERS rated homes, as well as state-level trends, trends of HERS ratings in cities, and more. The report offers insight into patterns for energy efficient construction and provides a comprehensive look at HERS rated homes. Read the full report for more details.

New Builder Practice Data Regarding Indoor Health and Comfort

NGBS recently completed its 2020 Builder Practices Survey that highlights market demand data and various topics pertaining to new construction projects. As COVID-19 sparked a renewed interest in indoor health and comfort, findings in the 2020 Builder Practices Survey, fielded among home builders in early 2020, serve as a benchmark for industry practices at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Specifically, the survey highlights that about two thirds of builder respondents indicated they use some sort of mechanical whole-home ventilation system in the homes they build. Skim the July 2020 New Builder Practice Data Regarding Indoor Health and Comfort to learn more about indoor health and comfort trends.

Read the HERS Rated Homes full report and check out NGBS’s New Builder Practice Data Regarding Indoor Health and Comfort for the latest updates and trends in energy efficient building.

COVID-19 Resources


2020 Home Efficiency Forum (HEF) Canceled

HEF is canceled for 2020 due to COVID-19. The BetterBuiltNW team is currently looking at options for hosting the event in 2021 and will provide relevant updates moving forward.

Northwest Green Home Tour

Virtual Event – September 12-13, 2020

The Northwest EcoBuilding Guild is hosting its annual Northwest Green Home Tour virtually this year. Take self-guided tours through new and remodeled homes in the Puget Sound area. You’ll see and learn first-hand how others are generating their own electricity with solar panels, lowering their energy bills with insulation, and creating healthier home environments for their families with better building materials and systems.

Register for the virtual home tour today.

Energy Codes are Going Beyond Energy Savings; How Can You Participate in a World with Storage and EVs

Webinar – September 15, 2020 – 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Join RESNET for a webinar on energy codes and how to comply with codes requiring electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. Learn how to work with utilities and municipalities as homes are connected to an interactive grid that supports energy-efficient homes, renewables, and now EV's and storage.

Register for the webinar today.

Built Green Conference 2020

Virtual Conference – September 17, 2020 – 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Register now for the annual Built Green Conference. Hear from experts on topics ranging from green building, to building science, and much more. Keynote speakers include Gil Friend of Natural Logic Inc., and Stacy Smedley of Skanska USA Building. Join the BetterBuiltNW team for two presentations: Making Net Zero Homes More Attainable and What are the Residential Energy Code Impacts to Built Green?

Register for the virtual Built Green Conference today.

BuildRight Conference

Virtual Conference – October 13 & 14, 2020

BuildRight is a two-day conference that brings together professionals all across the high performance and remodeling industries to gain insight on current market trends, legislative issues, and business practices. Attendees will learn to utilize new technologies, strategies, and business development innovations. These new innovations can help businesses succeed in high performance building. Attendees can also earn continuing education credit (CCB) from presentations during BuildRight, fulfilling licensing requirements.

Register today for the BuildRight Conference

2020 Northwest Green Building Slam & Summit

Virtual Event – October 13-15 and 21-23, 2020

The Northwest EcoBuilding Guild is hosting its annual Slam & Summit this fall. This event aims to reconnect people and re-energize the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild’s vision to drive the green building movement forward. Join hundreds of talented leaders, professionals and advocates during the six-day event in October.

Learn more about the Northwest Green Slam & Summit.

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