Energy Code


In this ARE 5.0 NCARB-approved Project Planning and Design Exam Prep course you will learn about the topics covered in the ARE 5.0 PPD exam division. A complete and comprehensive curriculum, this course will touch on each of the NCARB objectives for the ARE 5.0 Project Planning and Design Exam.

Instructor Mike Newman will discuss issues related to the generation or evaluation of design alternatives that synthesize environmental, cultural, behavioral, technical and economic issues.

When you are done with this course, you will have a thorough understanding of the content covered in the ARE 5.0 Project Planning and Design Exam including design concepts, sustainability/environmental design, universal design, and other forms of governing codes and regulations. 

One of the things that has happened with the building codes over the last 10, 15, 20 years around the country is the introduction of energy codes. Not every place around the country will have one, but a number of years ago hardly any had them and now they're pretty much happening everywhere around the country. So it's quite possible you might get a question that references an energy code. And the concept of the energy code is that there are a series of rules and regulations that mean that whenever you're designing a new space you are designing it in such a way that it doesn't waste energy.

Now it seems sort of obvious, but that used to be just the purview of the building owners, that they would decide whether they wanted a more efficient or a less efficient building. And so they would either, you know, design in such a way that they used a lot of energy or they didn't use a lot of energy. Well, the municipalities have realized, over the years, that this has a pretty dramatic effect on the municipality overall, on the city overall. That you'd find that if we have situations where everybody is using a lot of energy, that means we have to have power plants that can supply that energy.

It means that, in the sort of peak work moments, there's a huge amount of energy needed, but then what do we do when we don't need that peak and we have all these excess power plants around that are only there for those peak moments? So, the idea of the energy code is to start finding ways to bring down the energy use across the board, not because we want to control people, like how they live their lives or what their work situation is, but because we're worried about the city overall.

That too much energy use by the city overall means we have more pollution, more power plants that have to get built and we have to find ways to fund those and all of those, we have to use more energy to do that. So, this is a way to kind of reimagine, how to make sure that everybody is using a sort of reasonable amount of energy.

So we're not going to go too deep into it, because it gets a little complicated pretty fast. But some of the sort of short elements that would be useful to remember, one is that one of the ways this will be thought of is as watts per square foot. So if I have an office setting back in, you know, the sort of 70s or something, we would just put a whole bunch of lights in. You know, the place would be filled with lights. In the 50s would be the same kind of thing. 80s they started being a little smarter about it.

And then in the 90s people started realizing, wow, we're wasting a lot of energy and we just have lights all over the place. And now, especially with so many computers around, you actually, in a lot of situations, just don't need that much light. You need enough light for people to be safe, and to be able to read papers and things like that, but we don't need as much light as we used to think that we needed. And so a lot of the rules now will say something like you're allowed to have one watt per square foot, something like that.

So you can calculate up a room and say, all right, for this room I have, you know, 380 square feet, so that gives me 380 watts. Now if I was using an old incandescent bulb system, that would be essentially three or four hundred watt bulbs, right? And that would be a very inefficient system for something that's 380 square feet. Well, fortunately, we have a lot more choices these days than just those old incandescent bulbs. So maybe I'm using a fairly efficient fluorescent system, or I'm using an LED based system.

But either way I'm going to start to find, to make sure that we are using only, in that case, 380 square feet, 380 watts, I can then divide it up any way I want. I might have, you know, a 10 watt bulb very regularly. I might have, you know, more like a 40 watt luminaire every so often. And then I can add that up to sort of get to be the equivalent of the 380.

But this is a way of sort of saying you don't need to put in a thousand watts into a 380 square foot space, right? It's just sort of a simple way of kind of relating the energy use to the size of the space. And then the designers get to sort of decide, well, how does that play out? It's a very useful way of thinking about it and is pretty universal these days. That concept is likely to show up somewhere on the exam, when they start talking about energy codes.

Another sort of concept is the ASHRAE comparisons. So, ASHRAE is the sort of governing body of heating systems, people who design heating systems. And the thought there is that there's the sense that a typical system at a typical moment in time takes a certain amount of energy for heating, and a certain amount of energy for cooling, per square foot and that you can judge that against previous ones.

And we can say, well, in the past it was X, now we're going to try to do it 80 percent of X, all right? So you're using yearly comparisons as a way to sort of constantly try to get more energy efficient systems. This is how LEED works, that you get points if you are better than the average, if you are sort of always sort of pushing to make things better than the average.

But then clearly if a bunch of people are getting better than the average, well then the average is getting better. And so, five years later, better than the average has to be even better, because the average has changed, right? So, that's one of the ways that the energy code can work, is that they start aligning with set times, set moments in time, and saying here's the average from ASHRAE. And then if we move that along to five years later, 10 years later, that average has changed. And so you're having to match to something that's constantly moving along, as a way to make sure that the city is always keeping up and making an energy efficient place.

So this is going to be about heating and cooling, it's going to be about the devices that people use, lights and all of the electrical equipment. It's going to be about the, are these Energy Star appliances, things like that that meet a certain level of expectation? All of those things would show up in the energy code. Now, not everything has to follow the energy code.

If you're talking about a business use, that would have to follow it. A single family house may or may not, it would depend on the municipality. You know, certain kinds of settings like a stadium, or a theater, or something like that, it would be hard for them to meet the same kinds of codes because they have such a strange set of lighting issues and strange needs of trying to cool a space that suddenly fills with 500 people and then all those people leave.

Like certain things it doesn't make sense for, but those kind of everyday spaces, like an office building, or like a retail space, those kinds of spaces would absolutely have the energy code attached to them. So, like I said, this is something that didn't really exist a long time ago, now it's sort of come into vogue. And the whole point is to sort of think of it from the city's standpoint, because we don't want to keep building these power plants, we don't want to have all this extra pollution, so instead of putting out all this excess energy that we don't need, we find ways to sort of limit it and keep it reasonable.

It might be in a watts per square foot sense, it might be in using Energy Star. It might be in just making sure that every new construction is held to a higher and higher standard from the ASHRAE standards. Any of those things might be something that you would have to deal with and something that would be on that energy code.

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From the course:
ARE 5.0 Project Planning & Design Exam Prep

Duration: 30h 57m

Author: Mike Newman